Milwaukee Mourns

George Floyd

October 14, 1973 – May 25, 2020

In their own words, part two: More reactions to the death of George Floyd and the ensuing  protests

The death of George Floyd and the protests that have followed have forced yet another national conversation on race in America. Today, more NNS readers weigh in on the topic.

 by Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service

Bevin Christie

Nearly 28 years after the L.A. riots, here we are again.

Bevin Christie

In March of 1991, I was 16 years old and a junior in high school. I had lived in Milwaukee for about 18 months, after being born and raised in white rural Wisconsin. The now-infamous Rodney King video was just released to the media. The national news aired the video of Officer Koon directing multiple officers to continuously use their batons on the already tasered King. He was struck 33 times and kicked/stomped seven times in a video that lasted a mere minute and 19 seconds.

In 1991, there were no cell phones, Ring doorbell cameras or Go Pros. It was just becoming the norm for the average family to have a camcorder. Things did not go viral in an instant, like they do today, but the video of Rodney King’s beating did. For the first time, I saw on the ten o’clock news what I had only heard about in NWA lyrics. The entire country saw it! 

In my circle of friends, we all thought, “Finally, we got you! The police are finally caught doing what White America swore never happens.” The stories of survival after an encounter with a racist cop were no longer just rumor or innuendo to the masses. What blacks and Latinos had been claiming for years was now on full display and getting national attention. Because of the national media, the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office filed charges against those officers, and they were arrested for assault and the use of excessive force.  

Even though I was young and naïve at the time, I know I was not the only one who was in shock when on April 29, 1992, after seven days of deliberation, three officers were acquitted, and the jury was hung on the fourth.  Hours after the verdict, protest and outrage turned violent, and what is now known as the L.A. riots began. Over the course of three days, more than 60 people were killed, 2,000 plus were injured and more than $1 billion in property damage was caused, due to the burning of more than 3,000 buildings. According to the History Channel website, it is known as “the most destructive U.S. civil disturbance of the 20th century.”

This case set a precedent and a clear message was sent: The police have a license to do as they please, wrong or right, video or no video, and they have continued in this pattern since. Time and time again, we hear of and see incidents of police officers, and those who think they are allowed to take police action, taking the lives of black men and women with no repercussions. Their “punishment” is little more than a hiccup in their lives, and then they are allowed to go about their business. 

Nearly 28 years after the L.A. riots, here we are again. Not for the beating of an unarmed black man but for the murder of George Floyd caught on video. We are no longer in shock by these videos as we were in 1991. This time, instead of a video being shot from emerging technology providing grainy footage, we saw an up close, clear video of Officer Chauvin casually kneeling on George Floyd’s neck for more than seven minutes, with Chauvin continuing to kneel on Floyd’s neck for two more minutes after his cries for help ceased and his body went limp. We saw Officer Chauvin nonchalantly kneel on the neck of a man for almost ten minutes with his hand in his pocket as he confidently posed for the camera. The same store, where someone called the police regarding a counterfeit $20 bill Floyd used minutes earlier, was now calling the police on the police, as it watched the murder of George Floyd. The entire world saw it! 

As the wife of a former police officer, I know some of what police officers face every day. I know about the sacrifices they make. I know that some officers can become hardened over time or feel overwhelmed with all of the despair in the communities they serve. I am sure that some of you go to work and at times think that today could be your last day. But if that’s not what you signed up for, perhaps you are in the wrong profession. 

I believe that if you became an officer because of the power it gives you, you are in the wrong profession. I know that if you are not willing to hold yourself and your fellow officers accountable to the same laws you enforce, then you are in the wrong profession! If you cannot hold yourself and your fellow professionals responsible for your actions, in and out of uniform, then you are no better than anyone you arrest! Actually, you are worse.  

I was taught that we learn our history so that we don’t repeat our mistakes. Yet, as a nation, we are in this constant cycle of division and oppression. We met some milestones and then we got comfortable. The Trump administration woke us up. I believe that we are going to continue to be pushed out of our comfort zones until we can truly say we have achieved the liberation of our most oppressed communities. 

As I pondered my call to action over the weekend, I was struck by the closing monologue on the season finale of “Mrs. America,” a Hulu FX original about the feminist movement in the 1970s.   

“Still today, we select our leaders, first by eliminating women, then minorities and then those with too little education. Changing this will take a very long time. After all, we are dealing with 10,000 years of patriarchy and racism, but we must continue to move forward in waves. What will keep us going is the revelation of what we can be, what the people around us can be, without the crippling walls of the prisons in which we have been forced. We are just beginning to discover, each of us, who we can be and no matter how long this revolution may take, there can be no turning back.” 

William Tisdale

This “didn’t emerge from thin air.”

William R. Tisdale

president and CEO, Metropolitan Milwaukee Fair Housing Council

In this moment, we are called to stretch toward justice in new ways, and to care for ourselves and our neighbors more than ever before.  The current moment is shocking, but it didn’t emerge from thin air; it has deep roots in our Wisconsin history.  Our communities are experiencing an unprecedented crisis based on multiple forms of violence: the bodily harm done by disease, experienced by black people and other people of color in disproportionate ways; systems that police minority neighborhoods and incarcerate people of color more than white people; and the harm decades of segregation and disinvestment have done to black and other minority neighborhoods. Taken together, these create a complex, toxic combination.  Let us recommit to the health of all neighborhoods, the expansion of housing choices, and the eradication of discrimination.  As it unfolds, the COVID-19 pandemic is showing itself to have multiple fair housing implications. We ask community members to be on the lookout for these issues and to know that there is help available when fair housing rights are violated.

  1.   Due to decades of entrenched residential segregation, black and Latino neighborhoods are experiencing COVID-19 much more intensely than other areas. Black Wisconsin residents are 5.7 times more likely to die from COVID-19 than white residents, and a third of Milwaukee County COVID-19 cases are among Latino residents, even though Latinos comprise only about 15% of the county population. We are concerned that the stigma associated with COVID-19, as a highly contagious disease, will result in unlawful discrimination against black and Latino neighborhoods and housing consumers.

  2.   Numerous reports indicate that domestic violence is increasing while people are attempting to shelter at home. In Wisconsin, our state fair housing law prohibits discrimination against survivors of domestic violence. We must be vigilant to ensure that their fair housing rights are protected.

  3.   Anti-Asian hate incidents are on the rise, as xenophobes blame Asian nations for the existence of the pandemic. When hate happens in housing situations, it can violate fair housing laws.

  4.   Latinos and immigrants, who make up an overwhelming proportion of employees in many meatpacking facilities where COVID-19 has spread, are experiencing stigma as a result.

  5.   Sexual harassment incidents are being reported in increasing numbers all over the country; there is evidence that predatory rental housing providers are sexually harassing tenants who have become financially vulnerable due to the economic crisis caused by the pandemic. These tenants, who have few other housing options, are being asked to trade sex for rent, or subjected to a hostile and unsafe living environment.

  6.   Scammers are approaching homeowners in financial distress, offering to “rescue” them from potential foreclosure, to expedite unemployment checks or other financial supports, and charging up-front, illegal fees for services that never materialize.

If you have experienced any of these things, or notice them in your community, please contact the Fair Housing Council. We stand ready to help.  The Fair Housing Council can be reached at 414-278-1240, or our statewide toll-free complaint intake line, 1-877-647-3247, or through our website.
Latunia Riley

A lot of our younger generation could not sit and be quiet.

Latunia (Tonya) Riley


The video recorded death of George Floyd made me sad, distraught and angry! The death of our black men and women. These ongoing murders by the hands of the police is like continuous rapid fire that never seems to stop.

As a black woman living in the most segregated city in the U.S., I experienced racism firsthand either at work and/or day-to-day life, which is norm for a lot of African Americans (which shouldn’t be.)


As I approach my 50s, I believe the murder of Mr. Floyd sparked a reaction that I’ve never seen nor experienced in my lifetime, even after the Rodney King riot. While watching the protesting on cable news, I just didn’t see African Americans, but I saw whites, Asians, Latinx and other races marching hand-in-hand. This murder by

the hands of the police started a movement that a lot of our younger generation could not sit and be quiet.

The hope is the younger generation continue to interact and learn from one another similarity and more important differences and not let the news media or radio talking heads disrupt and taint their open mindedness.

To my Gen-Xers and the generations before mine, let’s stop the bias, stop being afraid of those who don’t look like you, meaning don’t let cable news, newspapers or radio talking heads dictate the way you should think. A lot of people are afraid of people of other races and they never addressed the real answer as to WHY! What people need to understand that we all have more in common than we are different.

TeAngelo Cargile

The system is thriving as we continue DYING.

TeAngelo Cargile Jr.

George Floyd is ANOTHER Black man killed on video by a police officer in broad daylight. He is now a part of a list that many Black men and women are on. This list has too many brothers and sisters on it, and it continues to grow. He reminds me that the system is thriving as we continue DYING. For Milwaukee this means justice hasn’t been served there and it hasn’t been served here. UNTIL justice is enacted EVERYWHERE there will be no peace in Milwaukee.

Jarett Fields

This is about more than race.

Jarett Fields

Derek Chauvin murdered George Floyd. His actions were reckless and costly. Floyd is dead, cities are burning, and once again we are faced with another Black person being killed at the hands of a white officer. But this is about more than race.

Derek Chauvin should have never had the opportunity to place his knee on George Floyd’s neck. His history of misconduct should have rendered him unfit for service to the Minneapolis Police Department five years ago.

In 19 years of service to the department, Derek Chauvin was investigated for misconduct 18 times. At least three of those incidents resulted in shootings or deaths. During that time, the City of Minneapolis paid out over $20 million for misconduct lawsuits. Including incidents where Chauvin was a participating officer.

In 2015, a federal review of the Minneapolis Police Department concluded the MPD needed improvements in identifying problematic officers. By that time, Chauvin already had a clear history of misconduct, but he was never identified as a problematic officer. If he were, Floyd might be alive today.

On average, only 10% of officers are investigated for misconduct. Like Derek Chauvin, they are repeat offenders and brutality investigations are common. The money paid out for police misconduct could be used for youth programs, internships, revitalization projects, green spaces, and development. But instead, it goes to families who were victims of police malfeasance.

Just as Chauvin has robbed Floyd of his life, he also has robbed the City of Minneapolis of opportunities to provide better for its residents who, like many others, are in desperate need of resources and opportunities.

Now, as cities burn in the aftermath of Floyd’s murder, we must focus on how to chart a better path forward.

MY existence in this country and in this world is one that is beyond complicated but yet simple enough to be taken away.

Darrol D. Gibson II

There are no words to describe what the death of George Floyd means to me. There is no way to articulate the depth of anger, frustration, and fear that is coursing through my heart at this very moment. MY existence in this country and in this world is one that is beyond complicated but yet simple enough to be taken away. I’ve witnessed mass murderers, serial killers, and white terrorists being walked to police cars and court rooms, but my life is insignificant enough that it’s worth being taken away from my family, my friends, and my community for a fraudulent check, or a loose cigarette, or for running, for walking, or for standing or for just breathing. So no, there are no words to describe what George Floyd’s death means to me. I’m still attempting to figure what words are out there to describe the importance of my life in a world that does not see it.

Sharlen Moore

Milwaukee can use this as a moment to do better.

Sharlen Moore

First of all, my heart and prayers go out to the family of George Floyd. As a mom of two black sons, I am both enraged and disappointed with how peaceful protest have turned into acts of violence and destruction of our communities. There are many people who do not understand that there are racist groups that have organized to disrupt and incite chaos during organized and peaceful protest. Unfortunately, the media coverage provides the appearance that all black people are looting and evoking violence. The Black Lives Matter movement has been turned into a circus and it’s hurtful to see the hard work of so many destroyed. 

We have a huge racial inequity problem in this country, and it all started way before the death of George Floyd. The black community has been continuously overlooked for decades, and now we are seeing people’s frustration as a result of that. We have a right to be upset but we must channel it to challenge the status quo. If we don’t, then the lives of all the black people who have been murdered at the hands of police will be in vain. 

This is a prime opportunity for Milwaukee’s leadership to do something different. The responsibility has to start at the top and we must see change! Milwaukee can use this as a moment to do better and we must all band together to ensure that it happens. Until black lives matter, then all lives will matter.

Robert Smith

Everyone must choose a side.

Robert S. Smith

The death of George Floyd highlights, in its most grotesque form, how blatantly pervasive the evils of white supremacy and anti-black racism have become. The murder of “Big Floyd” — and the cumulative impact of so many other murders at the hands of law enforcement — gives clear and exacting evidence that our nation is in the throes of civil war. 

Regardless of your race, upbringing or political affiliation, everyone must choose a side. 

Either you choose to stand with those of us who fight to protect justice and humanity or choose to stand with racists and evil doers. There is no in-between in this hour, as our streets have erupted. No sophistry will hold up in this hour, as our so-called president sides with those proudly donning the symbols of traitors to this nation. 

Indeed, this is a rebellion to save Black Lives. And, beyond any doubt, it is a rebellion to save this nation.

Another level of anger.

Hobe Love

The death of George Floyd just creates a better light of what’s been going on in our country.  It saddens and angers me that as an officer, there are officers who still feel disgrace for the African American community and yet still get a chance to wear a badge of authority.  

I believe what’s going on in Milwaukee is another level of anger. I agree that people should be upset and angered by what’s happening when it comes to policing in America.  However,  I do not agree with the violence. There are other ways to get the cities attention.

Mary Ousley

Another sign that we aren’t seen as people in this country.

Mary Ousley

16, Bradley Tech High School

George Floyd’s death to me is another sign that we aren’t seen as people in this country. It is another chance for us to come together instead of everything being black and white. It’s a chance for us to finally do the right thing. I am happy that we were able to peacefully protest because this is a sensitive time. I was upset that people used this situation as a reason to destroy our neighborhoods. They didn’t even destroy the property of the people they were mad at. I think we need to come up with ways to fix what’s wrong inside our community before we try to fix things outside. 

Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service is a project of Diederich College of Communication and Marquette University.

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