Folks, I started this evening by watching a Brewers game on TV, and am ending this evening watching live footage of at least three small businesses in Milwaukee go up in flames. There’s currently looting, burning, and much vandalism, and firefighters have had trouble getting to areas to fight the fires because of the crowds on the street.
I am horrified.
All of this started because earlier on Saturday, an officer stopped two people in a car. One went left, the other went right. The policeman followed one of them; that person ended up getting shot, and then later died. All of this was caught on camera, as the policeman was wearing a body camera.
A young man, who says he’s a relative (a brother) of the young man who was killed, says the police have failed to protect the people of Milwaukee, and that’s why the rioting, looting, and burning is going on. He says the police must do a better job keeping the peace — this is my best paraphrase, as I just heard the young man speak on CBS 58’s live newscast at approximately 1:45 AM CDT — and certainly seemed extremely upset.
Basically, this area is a powderkeg.
I live about twenty-five miles from the area that’s going up in flames right now. But I have to admit that I am deeply frightened.
When people become mobs, and mobs become violent, that is an extremely scary situation.
There are legitimate, long-standing problems in this area with poverty, underemployment/unemployment, a lack of education, and a lack of positive opportunities. I understand all of that, and agree fully that all of these problems must be addressed.
We need opportunities. We need positive change. We need help, and support, and healing.
Looting, rioting, and burning does not help any of that.
Now, fewer people will have jobs than before. What good does that do?
Some people who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time will probably end up injured, perhaps may even die; how does that highlight economic inequality?
And at best, innocent people who probably don’t have much in the way of financial resources will lose their vehicles to the fires, as some already have. Lose their livelihoods, as a few already have. Or may even lose their homes.
How is this right or just?
Tonight, at least four small businesses and a bank branch have been either torched or seriously vandalized (to the point there may be no point to ever reopening the store that was once in that location). There’s much more looting going on than that; there’s much more destruction going on than that. I have seen traffic lights vandalized and bus stations completely demolished.
As the anchorwoman on WTMJ (channel 4 in Milwaukee) just said, these people are destroying their own neighborhoods. And that’s what is the saddest part of all.
My hope now is that we will somehow be able to stop the violence, stop the destruction, rebuild the businesses and heal the injured…but it’s extremely awful to see all of this happening.
My heart hurts.
Pray for Milwaukee, folks. Because I don’t know anything else that might do any good right now. (And when will the national news figure out that Milwaukee is burning? So far, they’re not paying any attention whatsoever…damn them. We’re not just flyover country!)