Sunday, August 14, 2016

Black Lives Still Matter

Another shooting by police, this time of an armed black man suspected of robbery in Milwaukee, that led to a crowd gathering in protest and violence.

A standoff between police and an angry crowd turned violent Saturday night in the hours after a Milwaukee police officer shot and killed an armed suspect during a foot chase on the city's north side.

After an hours-long confrontation with officers, police reported at 10:15 p.m. that a gas station at N. Sherman Blvd. and W. Burleigh St. was set on fire. Police said firefighters could not for a time get close to the blaze because of gunshots.

Later, fires were started at businesses — including a BMO Harris Bank branch, a beauty supply company and O'Reilly Auto Parts stores — near N. 35th and W. Burleigh streets, a grim and emphatic Mayor Tom Barrett said. He spoke at a midnight news conference at the District 3 police station at N. 49th St. and W. Lisbon Ave. 
He and Common Council President Ashanti Hamilton pleaded with the public for calm. Barrett promised a strong police presence in coming days.

The mayor said some involved in the disturbances took to social media early in the evening to encourage others to come out and participate in trouble-making. He said many of them were young people, and he urged parents to keep tight reins on their children to avoid a repeat of Saturday night.

"Our police officers are doing everything they can to restore order," he said. But he said everyone needed to help restore calm.

"If you love your son, if you love your daughter, text them, call them, pull them by their ears, get them home."

The mayor said police had "shown an amazing amount of restraint" Saturday evening.

Hamilton said, "Our city is in turmoil tonight." He promised a full and open investigation into the the police-involved shooting.

"When we get information, we are going to share it with the public, please allow the process to work," he said.

First, it's weird how even in situations where police are dealing with armed white suspects that they are "captured" or "taken alive" but black ones are killed far more often.

Second, what would lack of restraint look like by the Milwaukee PD? Killing suspects before they could be tried or something? Rolling tanks down the streets? How is this in any way restraint by the police?

Third, Milwaukee is arguably the most segregated large city in America and has been for years. That directly affects the makeup of the Milwaukee PD, the conditions of income equality in the city, everything. Some 40% of Milwaukee residents are black, and the overwhelming majority live on the city's north side.  This was apparent even back in 1999 when I was in town for GenCon and my friends and I drove north to Appleton to meet our old pal from high school.  We went through that part of town and my friends were pretty stunned at what they saw.  Nothing much has changed since.

Black Lives Still Matter, guys.  Police reform is still needed, badly.

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