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Common Council statements on Justice and Peace

Statement of President Ashanti Hamilton:

The only path to justice involves peace and patience

For generations, Milwaukee has been a city crying out for justice. But there is no justice in a mob scene, and the time is now to come together as a city and peacefully reflect on our problems instead of inciting more of them.

Accordingly, I’m calling on every Milwaukeean to practice nonviolence and restraint in the nights ahead. If you feel the need to make your voice heard, I would expect you to do it peacefully, and to obey the lawful orders of the police officers charged with protecting our lives and our property.

There is a process for investigating the police-involved shooting that precipitated this weekend’s unrest, and I would ask our residents to withhold their judgment until they have learned more of the facts in this matter. I am told there is body camera footage of the shooting, and that when it is shared, it will bring additional facts to light. We are pushing to expedite the release of this video and these facts as much as possible.

Make no mistake about it, the frustration and the anger that we’ve seen expressed—sometimes violently—are very real, and so are the disparities that created them. Our city is home to neighborhoods full of kids and young people who feel trapped without opportunity, without hope and without role models. They see a world that’s passing them by because of where they were born and the color of their skin.

We have struggled for too long just to begin to rebuild our city, and we will not stand by and let violence and incivility tear it all down again. The sort of unchecked rage and destruction we have witnessed these past two nights hasn’t put us any closer to finding solutions for our problems. Hurling bricks through windows doesn’t fix anything, but picking those bricks up and building something, as a community, might. I hope my neighbors will join me in seeking a peaceful solution to our problems.

Statement of Alderman Khalif J. Rainey:

A plea for peace in our neighborhoods

I need to be perfectly clear about these two things: while the residents of Sherman Park and Milwaukee’s impoverished neighborhoods have just cause for anger and frustration, absolutely nothing justifies the display of violence and incivility we’ve witnessed in our neighborhoods these past two evenings.

My plea to my neighbors is to do everything they can to stop the violence immediately. In a neighborhood where the opportunities for employment are so few and far between already, it is foolish and counter-productive to take out your anger on the few businesses that choose to operate on your block. Looting and burning won’t create opportunities to get a job and get ahead in life.

Yes, our neighborhood has problems. Yes, it is unjust that many of us are denied economic opportunities because of the color of our skin and the zip code in which we were born. Yes, too many of our young people are mired in frustration, hopelessness and crime. But you can’t fix the roof of a burning house.

We need to put down the bricks and put away the guns. We need to pick up some brooms and paint brushes and get to work. We need to get our kids off the streets and teach them to act out of love and hope instead of fear and anger. We need to stop creating additional problems and start seeking solutions.

If you’re angry, good; it means you’re paying attention. Once we’ve restored peace in our neighborhoods, I hope you will join us in the work of creating opportunity and equality for all of Milwaukee’s citizens.

We need peace, calm and healing on Milwaukee’s North Side, and I respectfully ask every one of my neighbors to join me in pursuing that goal.

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Lee Matz

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