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.