Thursday, June 21, 2007

The problem on Juneteenth Day

I have been reluctant to blog on the violent incident at the end of Juneteenth Day. It was awful and its hard to know what to say beyond that. But, predictably, Eugene Kane weighs in and solves my problem. After observing, quite correctly, that most people who attended the event enjoyed it peacefully, he writes:

Also, like most folks with any knowledge of the way Juneteenth Day gets covered by the media, I also realized if there was any negative event during the approximately ten-hour long festival, some people in town would use it as yet another example of why black folks in Milwaukee are such a problem.

Frankly, it was discouraging to see the videotape of a violent crowd of young people attacking cars after the festival was over.

It sure was. Hundreds of kids walking in the street disrupted traffic. Some of them smashed car windows and pulled a driver out of his car and beat him. This was not just "any negative event" and, in the context of the violence in our central city, it is not simply the regrettable youthful fervor of a some "knuckleheads [the preferred epithet for those who want to minimize this stuff] who don't understand how to just have their fun and go home."

There is a much larger issue and it isn't that "black folks in Milwaukee are such a problem." It's that black folks in Milwaukee have such a problem. There is a subculture of violence in our inner city and it is overwhelmingly black people who are its victims.

The problem is not that people are outraged at what happened. The problem is that it happened.

I understand the fear that incidents like this can exacerbate racial fears. But ignoring it or minimizing it or dismissing it as a "cry for help" won't solve a thing.


Anonymous said...

It may be time for the Juneteenth festival to move to some site like State Fair Park, as the Greek Fest had to do a few years ago after years of similar problems in Wauwatosa -- generally at closing time of that festival, too.

There or in Milwaukee, neighborhoods with streets, alleys, private properties with fenced yards, etc., are far more difficult for police trying to get people to leave an area. The event ends, but people are still there . . . and some still looking for trouble.

Lew Wasserman said...

"Outraged at what happened"

The video clearly shows that the beating of the motorist happened for no reason other than the actor felt great joy and satisfaction in committing this outrage and cared not at all for the consequences to his victim. Most of the shootings occur for the same reason - because the shooter enjoyed the moment of pulling the trigger and the sound of the gun firing and the kick of the bullet exiting the muzzle and the sickening thud of the bullet striking the victim. If this explanation sounds like a description of a "high" that's intended. I have read countless times police reports wherein the actor is related to have exclaimed an almost climactic joy that he "fucked that [ ] up." But even outrage can be an indulgence when it would seem to be continuously required. Perhaps shame would be less cathartic.

Anonymous said...

About shootings, it was pointed out elsewhere that there was gunfire at one of the following festivals last weekend: (a) Juneteenth Day in Milwaukee or (b) the country music concert in Green Bay.

It wasn't (a), and thankfully so -- the beating was horrific enough. But steps must be taken so that (b) doesn't happen here next year.

DOC said...

It was wrong to blame the violent actions of a few misguided folks on the Juneteenth Festival. There was no connection of the attack with the Juneteenth activities. The violence took place after the festival was over! The media is once again guilty of trying to place negatives on anything affiliated with something constructive in our community.

Juneteenth is America's 2nd Independence Day celebration. 26 states recognize Juneteenth as a state holiday or state holiday observance, as well as the Congress of the United States.

Together we will see Juneteenth become a national holiday in Amemrica!

Rev. Ronald V. Myers, Sr., M.D.
National Juneteenth Holiday Campaign
National Juneteenth Observance Foundation (NJOF)
National Juneteenth Christian Leadership Council (NJCLC)