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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014

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Fighting hate and anger with hate and anger is counter-productive


You can't fight acts of anger and alleged racism with anger and certifiable racism while expecting something good to come out of it.

After the mob-like attacks on and around the Wisconsin State Fair grounds last night, this seems to be the reaction of many people – both white and black.

Anger is something that is understandable, of course. Whenever somebody is injured or attacked for seemingly no reason, there is cause for great concern because it's puzzling and confounding to not have a solid reason to pin the actions on. It's more unsettling to have acts of violence caused by a group of people that have no real reason than it is to read the news of a domestic beating brought about by excessive alcohol use.

With an attack caused by alcohol, one can point to the depressive nature of the intoxicant. While terrible, and not lighter of a situation by any means, a reason gives the public at large more ability to understand the reality of the issue.

When attacks happen with seemingly no real reason, it's interesting and saddening that people immediately gravitate toward a reason so they themselves can feel better about the issue, even if the issue still sickens them.

That's what makes the reaction to the State Fair attacks so disturbing. Once again, Milwaukee has found itself clinging to race as the prime motivator for the attacks.

The rationale is that the group doing the beating was largely black or minority and the group that was beaten was largely white. Therefore, because of this, it MUST be because of race.

These youths cannot simply be angry and rebellious, as youth from every generation are. They must be a pack of wolves that carefully selected their prey, and the prey of the day was to be deer and only deer.

I made a statement on my Facebook page saying, "Perfect time to cut spending on education and social programs. Because these kids obviously enjoy educating themselves and are taking up basket weaving in their free time."

This angered one of my acquaintances from college so much that this person wanted to have a talk with me. This person is somebody who works in the social services field in the Milwaukee area, specifically with children, and the conversation that took place was alarming to me.

Here are some of the excerpts from this person's comments to me:

"I work in social services and you can't blame the government for this. These "social programs" don't work. They have created people who are completely unable to be self-sufficient, who then have kids who are completely unable to be self-sufficient and they don't parent their children because nothing is their responsibility."

"My organization is all about hand outs and ass wiping, there is no accountability."

"And all the bad things in life happened TO THEM. They aren't taking responsibility. I realize I'm making generalizations, it doesn't apply to all of them, but people cannot act surprised when crap like State Fair happens."

"But I realize it's hard when you have 15 of them with 7 different fathers. It begins to feel like it's a lost cause. It is literally like beating your head into a wall."

"How many chances are we giving these kids who are beating the sh*t out of people for no reason? It is SOUL KILLING working with them I'm not saying f*ck 'em, let 'em rot. I'm simply saying something needs to change."

"There are people like that and trust me I have some of the most wretched co-workers on the planet Earth! But, I will not take the blame for it. I work very hard and I try really, really hard. But when you are not supported by your organization and you work with people that are always handing out free sh*t, we aren't teaching these people anything and I refuse to waste my time and energy on it."

"I didn't make them this way and quite frankly it's not my responsibility to fix it. I thought it was but it's not because there are not enough people out there willing to take up the cause. You will always be fighting a losing battle."

I cannot and will not say that this person's attitude is all-encompassing for the entire social services industry, but I will say that it is extremely disheartening to read this person's comments. If there are any other people in the system that feel this way, and I'm sure there are, then when at-risk children of any color act in this respect it's an even greater showing of these service's failure on the whole.

How many children that don't have a solid family life or home are entrusted to defeated, check-cashing individuals like this? How many people who have unruly kids trust people like this to help their children? How many check-cashers are in the system showing these children the same disdain that society looks at them with? How many "workers" are giving up on these kids just as their parents or society have?

The system, as it is, is flawed, and I think everybody can agree on that. These programs will seemingly hire anybody that passes a background check because they need more warm bodies. How much money is going to people like this person who seems to be phoning it in and is clearly resentful of those for whom s/he is responsible? The money being given to these programs is NOT wayward spending. The money paid to the check-cashers that work for these programs is the waste.

Further complicating the situation are local government officials who believe in using scare tactics to gain re-election and are willing to shame an entire race of people for their issues instead of finding positive ways of helping remedy the many situations these communities are facing.

In a joint statement, Aldermen Bob Donovan and Joe Dudzik took the time to look down their noses at the African-American community in their reaction to the State Fair attacks in a press release that had to be issued twice because of spelling errors.

Donovan and Dudzik had this to say:

"As elected officials, we are shocked and concerned about the senseless violence displayed by the large mob outside State Fair Park last night. On behalf of our city, we apologize to the victims and good patrons who endured or witnessed such horrific behavior.

Sadly, what transpired near State Fair Park last night is only the most recent mob riot spawned by a culture of violence that has been brewing in Milwaukee for some time.

And let's face it, it also has much to do with a deteriorating African American culture in our city.

Are large groups of Hispanics or Hmong going out in large mobs and viciously attacking whites?

No.

We are reaping the harvest that we've sown.

How so?

There are repercussions for the staggering illegitimacy rate in our African American community.

There are repercussions for having little to no positive male involvement in the lives of African American children.

There are repercussions for single-parent homes where children aren't properly supervised, and where they aren't held responsible for their actions.

There are repercussions for a staggering, decades-long near 50% unemployment rate for African American males in our city.

There are repercussions for having a failing public school system, and an outdated juvenile justice system.

There are repercussions for having one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the U.S., and for having kids raising kids.

The community was shocked when the violent mob of African American youths attacked white people in Kilbourn Reservoir Park on July 3. Then, a few eyebrows were raised at the F-bombs and shocking disregard and disrespect for Milwaukee police officers shown by a large and unruly group of African Americans at N. Richards St. and W. North Ave. last Saturday night.

And now this horrific mob violence near State Fair Park.

But for those who live in some city neighborhoods, this violence has been like a steady rain for far too many years now. And the reality is this summer it seems we have five or six shootings each and every weekend!

Unfortunately, this behavior is now all too common in some parts of the Milwaukee community.

Our hearts go out to the older generation of African Americans in this city who remember when their community had one of the HIGHEST marriage rates in the city. Sadly, many of these same residents are now scared of their own children and grandchildren.

Although we hope our law enforcement agencies are able to bring some of the thugs who were involved in these attacks to justice, no amount of millions of dollars in government spending or resources is going to truly address this problem.

We can no longer wish this violence would just go away, and we cannot ignore it; we must see it for what it truly is.

We cannot begin to address the underlying causes of the violence without change. We believe that change must come from within the African American community, where new seeds must be sown."

Donovan and Dudzik's feelings towards black youth are clear. They are thugs. This prejudice in public office is terrible and an atrocity in and of itself.

Let's compare Alderman Donovan and Dudzik's joint statement with the statement provided by Alderman Michael J. Murphy.

Murphy statement says:

"I'm shocked and saddened to hear that a long-standing summer tradition for Milwaukeeans—the Wisconsin State Fair—has made headlines; not for the numerous reasons to attend and enjoy the Fair, but to report an incident of mob brutality that is an affront to all law-abiding citizens throughout this great state. The message should be perfectly clear: This behavior will not be tolerated and every attempt will be made to bring all of the actors in this incident to justice.

As a representative of a number of neighbors that live just outside the Fair grounds, it is my top priority to ensure the safety of the neighbors and fair-goers alike. As such, I am working closely with the Director of the Fair, as well as the MPD and the Mayor's Office, to increase patrols and surveillance and to initiate changes to the structure of the Fair that will benefit those in attendance. The unique quality of the Wisconsin State Fair Park is that it spans three police jurisdictions: Milwaukee, Wisconsin State Fair and West Allis. Our public safety force must act in unison, sharing resources and purpose to keep safe those who want to honor a tradition that celebrates Wisconsin's history and heritage.

The first step in ensuring safety in the coming days of the fair is to apprehend those who committed the crimes so that the community can move forward and work together to reinstate the safe space that is the State Fair.

I plan on being at the fair this weekend with my wife and daughter and have great confidence in the safety of the fair's weekend activities and know the Milwaukee Police Department will be out in force, protecting the public."

Murphy, who's district lands around the State Fair grounds, mentions nothing about race and goes a step further to state that he will be in attendance at State Fair with his family this weekend. This is in stark contrast to the "lock yourself inside and hide your children" attitude Donovan and Dudzik are taking.

Government officials using race and ethnicity as a motivator to further the justification of their own personal prejudices, and those that rally around them, is pathetic and shows them for what they really are – opportunistic fear-mongering racists.

In response to the terrible beginning to this year's Wisconsin State Fair and all of the negative attention being thrown it's way, the very reputable and enjoyable summer attraction has issued new rules regarding youth in attendance.

"Wisconsin State Fair Issues New Youth Parental Guardian Admission Policy

In response to the incidents in neighborhoods surrounding the Fair Park on Thursday evening, August 4, Wisconsin State Fair management will implement a new Youth Parental Guardian Admission Policy.

Immediately, the Youth Parental Guardian Admission Policy will go into effect. At 5pm today, Friday, August 5, 2011, the following policy will go into effect at all Fair admission gates.

1. All youth under the age of eighteen (18) years of age are required to be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian (age 21+) to be admitted to the Wisconsin State Fair after 5:00pm.

2. Anyone age 18 years or over may be asked to show a valid driver's license or state identification card for proof of age in order to be admitted to the Wisconsin State Fair without a parent or guardian after 5:00pm.

3. Any young adult under 18 without a valid driver's license or state identification card and not accompanied by a parent or guardian will not be admitted after 5:00pm.

4. Exceptions and challenges to this policy will be satisfied at the discretion of Fair Management.

"The foremost concern of the management of Wisconsin State Fair is the safety of its Fairgoers, volunteers, vendors, exhibitors and employees," stated Chief Executive Officer of the Fair Park, Rick Frenette. "The behavior of certain groups of young people last night is not something we will tolerate. The Fair is family oriented event and we are acting swiftly to protect the safety of those entering the Fairgrounds for the purposes of enjoying the Fair.

Wisconsin State Fair is working with the State Patrol, City of West Allis and City of Milwaukee to have increased police presence in the neighborhoods surrounding the Fair Park.

Incidents in the Midway area on the evening of Thursday, August 4, resulted in approximately 24 arrests within the Fair Park. Seven Wisconsin State Fair Park Police Officers were injured, two of those hospitalized, responding to fights in the Midway. There were no reports of Fairgoers injured within the Fair Park.

Wisconsin State Fair will continue through Sunday, August 14 at Wisconsin State Fair Park in West Allis."

Frenette also did not choose to play any race card, or identify the attacks as purely a racial thing.

So, with a social services system that employees angry and defeated people, some Alderman that enjoy running on the prejudice platform, and so many in the public that need to make everything racial, how can these kids – black, white, yellow, purple – NOT be angry?

There is NO excuse for these kids to act as they did, and violence like that which took place on Thursday in Milwaukee at the Fair grounds cannot be excuse or accepted, but when so many in society are already treating them as if they are animals because they are young and of a color that isn't white, how can these youths not be angry?

The reaction of extreme anger and racism only pushes forward the tension and can only lead to more eruptions of anger in the physical form.

Treating people as if you fear them, makes people want to give you a reason to fear them because it is incredibly insulting and disrespectful.

Milwaukee is a large city with lots of racial tension, crime and hate. There is no reason to add even more of that onto the already heaping pile of idiocy.

Fighting hate with hate will NEVER breed peace and responsibility.


Talkbacks

ChateauDweller | Aug. 8, 2011 at 10:53 a.m. (report)

This is a ridiculous and naive blog. As a proud conservative, I couldn't agree with mleitner's response more. It is not racist to talk about race, or blame something on racism and race. If you ignore the elephant in the room, it will sit on your head.

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AverageGuy | Aug. 7, 2011 at 8:58 p.m. (report)

JC, It takes a special brand of person to work in the social services. Hearing firsthand how they aren't working is a bit disheartening. It seems that the money going toward these programs is about as useful as the increased spending that has been pumped into MPS with no improvements as a result.

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J | Aug. 6, 2011 at 5:07 p.m. (report)

This is a deeply stupid comment on many different levels. Let's begin with the concept of alleged racism vs. certifiable racism. Would you be making this absurd distinction were it a pack of 400 white folks beating on black folks coming out of African World Festival? I'm guessing not, because it would be an act of racism plain and simple. Which is exactly what we have in this case, an act of racism. This was also confirmed by statements made not only by Police Chief Flynn who said Chief Flynn: Some people were singled out for violence because of their race, but also by a representative of the NAACP in a press conference recently aired by Fox 6 Now. Fox 6 Now also reports that State Rep. Josh Zepnick (D) is calling for a hate crimes investigation. JSonline reports that one witness stated It looked like they were just going after white guys, white people. In fact, the incident is eerily similar to another incident at the Iowa State Fair where violent individuals engaged in what was called, "Beat Whitey Night." http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/5719520/beat_whitey_night_at_the_iowa_state.html?cat=17 So the distinction you're attempting to manufacture just doesn't mesh with the facts. Next, you suggest that it's an attack caused by alcohol yet there have not been any reports as of yet indicating that any of the violent individuals were intoxicated. In fact, some of the earliest skirmishes were reported to have taken place around 2:00 p.m. in afternoon. So again, rather than base your opinion on facts, you engage in speculation. To chalk this up to the angry rebelliousness of youth whitewashes the real crux of the problem. Thee have been angry rebellious youths for decades of all races, yet never before have they been coordinating tactical assaults on large portions of the public at large. I must ask, exactly how much education and social programing is required to solve the problem? I ask because for decades we get more and more funding for education and social programing, yet the problem is exacerbating rather than improving. So how can this be the solution when thus far it's proving itself to be ineffective? The correct answer is that it isn't the answer. It's an excuse and a poor on at that. It's an attempt to excuse and apologize for behavior under the aegis of sociological flim-flam because they don't want to have to admit to or deal with the real problem for fear of being charged either a racist or an Uncle Tom. Your efforts to blame "check casher's" lack of dedication indicates that you haven't had much experience in the way of dealing with the "socio-economically disparaged" on a daily basis. I have. And let me tell you, it's no picnic After a time, you have no choice but to become jaded as you get beaten down because they actively and openly fight your every effort to improve their lives. In many cases (not all) they openly state that they aren't interested in long term life improvement, but are only interested in the short term free ride that "social programs" can give them. So your check-casher is right, the system is a failure because the philosophy behind it is inherently flawed. Its giving people fish, rather than teaching them how to fish on their own creating whole generations of incapable people. In essence, these social programs rob them of their potentials and their futures and keeps them subjugated with whatever meager pittance government arbitrarily deems appropriate to dole out to them, robbing them of their inner drive to achieve more. It is not the comments of messengers that shame an entire race, but rather the violent actions that they choose to engage in. In the end, this isn't about race or racism. This is about a set of bad behaviors that is being apologized for and encouraged with the continued use of prefabricated sociological excuses. It's a behavioral issue, not a racial one. To continue to beat the long dead sociological horse that these kids are acting up because of prejudice or that they're treated like animals is moronic in the extreme. There was no racial requirement or restriction for entrance to the State Fair Park or engaging in its activities. No one attempted to round them up and corral them in horse stalls, or feed them bales of hay. These were actions that they freely chose to engage in without provocation because this is the way that their parents, their schools, and their precious social programs have taught and encouraged them to be. Until folks drop the adolescent "anger, fear and hate" Yoda-isms, and directly address the uncomfortable reality of the problem as grown adults without the rosy haze of political correctness and sociological fantasy, the behavior will continue and worsen.

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Musko | Aug. 6, 2011 at 4:44 p.m. (report)

This sort of thing will not continue unchecked. Something is going to happen in response. Hopefully it isnt going to be an equally lawless band of citizen reactionaries, which is what I thought this article was going to be about. But it wasnt. Missed opportunity. And a bad look.

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charliewatkins | Aug. 6, 2011 at 4:25 p.m. (report)

Everyone seems to avoid the question; What caused the black youths to act this way? I have read comments calling these acts uncivilized, racist, and of how ashamed the black community should be. The real question is, Why? My answer is; It is written that " You reap what you sow. " Many years ago the white race decided that they needed slaves, so they enslaved the black race. To ensure their docility they destroyed the blacks sense of pride and family ( which is why today's black families are so dysfunctional, often lacking a father figure. ) It was then that the seeds of the harvest that you reap today were planted. Time and love, is the only solution to this problem. I read somewhere once that it will take a thousand years to eradicate the effects of the enslavement of the black race. You have about six hundred years to go.

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