Milwaukee Leaders, Community Members Stress Need to Support Law Enforcement

Aug 14, 2016

Violence and protests broke out in Milwaukee Saturday night.

A police-involved shooting on the city’s north side aggravated what had already been strained relations between some members of Milwaukee's black community and local police.

A group supporting law enforcement had a rally on the calendar even before events unfolded Saturday night. 

But despite beer flowing and a festive bagpipe performance, the mood was somber Sunday afternoon at Glendale’s Bavarian Bierhaus.

Gail Todd sold t-shirts boasting the American flag, and the phrase “Support the Blue.”

Credit Rachel Morello

Todd has two nephews on Milwaukee’s police force. She says luckily, they’re both on vacation – although she didn’t know that when she first heard news of violence Saturday night.

“I just worry about more people being hurt and injured, and we worry about the police officers,” Todd said. “It’s hard to see the destruction that happens in the black community, too."

Gov. Scott Walker opened the rally. In remarks to the hundred or so gathered, he said he would have shown up regardless of the weekend’s events.

“Our number one responsibility in government at any level is to ensure the safety of our citizens, and the people who are doing it at the front line deserve the support and commitment and respect that they deserve to make that happen,” Walker said.

The governor also took the opportunity to explain his decision to activate 125 members of the Wisconsin National Guard to Milwaukee. They’ll be on standby to help if called by the Milwaukee Police or Sheriff’s departments.

Walker says he hopes tempers have calmed in the Sherman Park neighborhood where violence erupted Saturday night.

“I hope the people there, as we are across the state supporting them, support not only our law enforcement, but support those neighbors who want to live in a neighborhood, a community that’s safe from the kind of images we saw last night, that people will realize that this is not a reflection of Wisconsin, of Milwaukee or of that neighborhood,” he said.

Alderman Mark Borkowski also attended the event to support police.

Borkowski, who represents Milwaukee’s southwest side, says he’s not sure what the next steps are for the city. He says he doesn’t have answers for the community members seeing this unfold outside their door.

“Our summer was actually going pretty well, I actually thought that maybe we were making a turn,” Borkowski said. “But then last night, we took a major step backwards. So I’m discouraged. I don’t know exactly what to do.”

Residents near Sherman Park worked into Sunday night to clean up what had been left after the violence and looting in their neighborhood.