Over 50 Common Ground members stood in solidarity as they heard the news of the lawsuit filed by of Rev. Demetrius Williams of Community Baptist and Rev. John Patterson of Mt. Olive Missionary Baptist church against Waukesha Sheriff Deputy Erik H. Michalsen and Waukesha County.
On August 27, 2018, Common Ground launched an investigation into possible racial profiling practices by Waukesha Sheriff Department because of the disturbing treatment of Pastors Williams and Patterson as they waited for their insurance tow truck to fix a flat tire on their 17-foot bass boat trailer.
“CG has come here today to announce the next steps in our racial profiling investigation. We have heard other stories confirming the common and malicious practice of racial profiling by Waukesha Sheriff Deputies. This type of treatment has to stop”, said Gwen Mosier a Common Ground Strategy Team member and Waukesha County Resident.
Mosier then read a September email from Susan Herro, an Oconomowoc resident: “I contacted Sheriff Severson to let him know that I disagreed with his statement that Deputy Michalsen’s actions were not motivated by race. When I had a disabled vehicle, I called for a tow truck. A Waukesha Sheriff Deputy approached me while I waited. I was treated with respect and courtesy. Your deputies’ behavior towards these two men was markedly different. I was treated with this respect because I am white. “
Pastor Demetrious Williams introduced the lawsuit by saying, “Today, we are here to announce a lawsuit against Deputy Erik H. Michalsen and Waukesha County. We are filing this lawsuit to remedy the unlawful and egregious misconduct of Deputy Michalsen”.
“The experience my friend and I had happens to black and brown people everyday. We want to let people know that we do not have to just take this kind of treatment. We can stand strong with Common Ground; we can push back and we can use the law to do it”, stated Rev. Patterson.
The lawsuit filed by Pastors Williams and Patterson claims that Deputy Michalsen’s actions were undertaken intentionally, maliciously, willfully, wantonly and/or in reckless disregard of Pastors Williams’ and Pastor Patterson’s federally protected civil rights.
“When I learned that Pastor Williams and Pastor Patterson took a bold step in using the power of the law to address the epidemic of racial profiling in Waukesha County, I was encouraged”, said Deacon Alex Hardy a member of Community Baptist Church
Deacon Alex Hardy, vowed that Common Ground will not stop with Waukesha County Sheriff Department because we know that this problem is bigger than Waukesha. It is a problem that frames the everyday experience of living black and brown in Milwaukee County and beyond.
We have heard other disturbing racial profiling stories involving other suburban police departments.
That is why we are launching Stand for Justice Days in our member organizations, starting
Martin Luther King Jr. weekend, going through Black History Month, and ending February 24th.
We are gathering more stories, looking for patterns so we can challenge and stop the culture of harassing and terrorizing black and brown people as we try to live, work and play in our suburban communities.
Following the press conference, additional Common Ground organizations signed up to host a Stand for Justice Day and committed themselves to find more people who are willing to join with Common Ground to push back on this ugly reality that violates the federal civil rights of our black and brown brothers and sisters.