Protests over the officer-involved killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis continued on June 3 for the sixth day in Milwaukee, with several concurrent marches held and a dangerous development that threatened the life of a prominent community organizer.
According to information shared across social media, a plot was discovered that a White Supremacy group had targeted peace activist and Milwaukee-native Frank Nitty. They planned to track the June 3 march and murder him publicly in front of the other protesters. Nitty said the threat had been verified, and city leaders were aware that it was credible.
The information was shared by Nitty during one of his livestreams late in the day. In the video message, he appeared visibly upset about the threat on his life, yet determined to continue is work to ensure that people of color had equal justice under the law – as a matter of reality.
Nitty has been livestreaming his participation in the daily protest marches, sharing his thoughts with people watching on social media and documenting his encounters with law enforcement. During one portion of his broadcast, when he revealed the death treat to the public, his usual words of reflection and defiance were more somber, using the opportunity to say goodbye to his friends, family, and followers in case he was killed.
“The word has been put out that they want to shoot me down here at the protest, they want to assassinate me in front of everybody,” said Nitty on Facebook. “They made an announcement, and named me, and let everybody know that they were going to kill me down here today. And they are down here now, some of the AltRight groups they’ve been located with automatic weapons.”
While usually marching with the crowd, Nitty instead spent the time riding in a vehicle so that he would be less vulnerable to an attack. A group of people were positioned around the car, driven by Maria Hamilton – another noted Milwaukee activist, for his security. In his livestream, Nitty wanted his supporters to know how much he loved and appreciated them.
“I don’t care who wants to kill me, I just want to march with my people,” added Nitty. “This just shows I’m doing the right thing, and it’s worth it.”
Hundreds of people on social media expressed their deep concern for Nitty’s safety and outrage over the threat, especially in light of the upcoming and tragic anniversary for Medgar Evers. The civil rights activist was assassinated on June 12, 1963 by a member of a White Supremacy group, because of the work Evers did to remove school segregation in Mississippi.
With security precautions in place, Nitty continued to lead the June 3 protest from safety. The march had swollen into thousands of participants, when two groups of protesters combined. As a credit to the movement that peacefully demanded accountability for police actions, the crowd was comprised of a diverse mixture of racial ethnicities.
One protest group had started walking from Humboldt Park on Milwaukee’s south side, the other began at Gordon Park in Milwaukee’s Riverwest neighborhood on the north side. The route for both groups intersected near 6th Street and Wisconsin Avenue.
With MCTS bus routes suspended or redirected to give the marchers a clear path, the protestors proceeded East to the Lakefront, along Veterans Park, to the Brady Street footbridge over Lincoln Memorial Drive. A military helicopter, what appeared to be a UH-60 Black Hawk, circled the crowd for the duration of the protest. The rotor blades echoed in the sky above downtown, and military appearance elicited many unfavorable comments from members of the crowd.
Eventually the marchers gathered in a circle across from Bradford Beach as the sun set over the Lake Michigan horizon. Some participants spoke to those gathered, before the demonstration made its way up Lake Drive and west on North Avenue. The City of Milwaukee did not issue a curfew for June 3, and the protest remained completely peaceful over several hours and across many miles.
A handful of armed men had been spotted, and were approached near North and Oakland Avenues. The small group were members of an organization called Boojahideen, who wanted to attend the protest in support of George Floyd and the demands for racial equality. But the weapons they carried created confusion about their identity and purpose, and if they were affiliated with the White Supremacists.
Nitty’s social activism started in 2016, after the Sherman Park unrest. He then took part in the protests of fatal police shootings, becoming a popular and vocal advocate for peaceful marching. His social media livestreams also brought public attention to incidents of civil unrest and injustices. Nitty has spoken out about gun violence, and is seen as a trusted voice in Milwaukee’s African American community because of his efforts to make conditions better for people of color.
With plans to continue protesting in the days ahead, Nitty remains under grave threat from the unidentified Alt-Right group – which is using terrorist tactics commonly deployed in the South during the Jim Crow era. Nitty has also been recently intimidated by law enforcement members in Milwaukee.
“These will continue to be peaceful protests,” added Nitty. “We’re not trying to interact with the police, but are asking them to come out and help us keep safe while protesting.”