I shook my head and said nothing; just stared at him for a moment, trying to look grim. “There’s going to be trouble,” I said. “My assignment is to take pictures of the riot.”
I hesitated, twirling the ice in my drink. “At the track. On Derby Day. The Black Panthers.” I stared at him again. “Don’t you read the newspapers?”
– Hunter S, Thompson, “The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved”
There are very few places that are so terrible, so utterly tinged with some dark and malignant energy that they simply must be destroyed. Like some cursed doll or haunted house there is no saving them, save for the holy and sacred cleansing power of fire. Anytime rational folks come across such a gate of demonry it is their sworn duty as members of this realm to destroy such an intrusion from the gates of hell.
Milwaukee is one of those places.
If you’ve been living under a rock let me bring you up to speed: the cops have killed another black man for no apparent reason though the media was quick to point out he had a gun(which he had a concealed carry permit for) and a “lengthy criminal record.” As I’ve written earlier this “lengthy record” turned out to be, of course, bullshit:
Are we talking about the same Sylville Smith who the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reluctantly admitted didn’t have a “lengthy arrest record” as reported because “Online court records show Smith has one prior conviction for carrying a concealed weapon, a misdemeanor. The rest of the arrests did not result in charges or were dismissed.” And what where those other arrests?
32 citations received for minor traffic violations, like driving without insurance and not wearing a seatbelt. What did the cops that killed him stop him for? “Acting suspiciously,” also known as “Black Guy Out After 3pm.”
This unjust killing resulted in the widespread chaos and anger deemed the Milwaukee Uprising. As is the case with people doing anything besides voting for puppets liberals were quick to tut-tut about the need for non-violence and conservatives drifted ever closer to calls for lynch mobs.
But this wasn’t the whole story. Couldn’t be. I knew, in some strange animal way, that the REAL story was something far stranger, that the amount of anger in the uprising didn’t match the crime; the rage that had boiled up was too concentrated for just one murder. There were things under the surface, things echoing in the shadow people from out of town wouldn’t even have the ears to hear. Journalists were running around or running for the hills without any idea of who to talk to or why things were happening.
As news crew were getting robbed and chased out of town I was writing an article about Hillary and Trump. Suddenly my inbox lit up.
Somebody from inside Milwaukee wanted to talk to me.
The individual said he had details on the how and whys of the Milwaukee Uprising, first hand knowledge gained from years in the trenches of local politics. “Just please don’t use my name,” an air of worry wafting off his text, “I have a police file from an unrelated incident in 2001. I used to be involved with a Milwaukee Anarchist organization.”
Curious and grabbing another beer I asked my source, who we’ll call Seidel, to give me a little background.
“I was born here while my dad was out to sea. I grew up in Charleston, SC and moved back in the late 80’s. The racism was overt down there. You knew who was cool and who wasn’t. Up here it’s covert. People act cool but if you live in certain neighborhoods or out in the burbs people say and do all kind of racist shit but in private they politely deny it.”
How racist was racist exactly?
“There’s also the whole matter of letting white supremacists march freely like the big clan rally in 2004 (where I was at the protest) and neo-nazi groups operating in the area while different black groups from reformist (peaceniks, church groups, old guard civil rights) to radicals like the black off shoot of occupy, anarchists, and the new black panther party are constantly harassed.”
At first I wasn’t impressed. I’m from Florida, my wife is mixed. Casual racism is a vile and throttling malaria down here I’ve lived first hand, one that Sherman should have burned out when he had the chance. So what made Milwaukee any different from Sanford or Ferguson?