Similar incidents have been occurring recently not only in Milwaukee but around the Nation. The conduct exhibited by the youths in these incidents is unacceptable and intolerable.
I do not know anyone who would condone such conduct, including several parents who, to their credit, have come forward and reported their children to law enforcement.
To the extent that racial slurs or epithets were used during the incidents or individuals were targeted on the basis of race, the NAACP reiterates its strong objections to such race–based conduct whenever it occurs.
We believe that these incidents reflect the circumstances and conditions discussed in a recently released NAACP report, Milwaukee Today, and largely speak to the societal problems we as a community need to address – specifically the huge disparities that exist in our communities and manifest in the high level of unemployment, isolation, segregation, joblessness, lack of economic opportunity, extremely high levels of incarceration of African-American males and so forth.
Actually, we must recognize (as stated in our report), that these types of behaviors are specifically related to the fact that the African-American community in Milwaukee has been destabilized and family structure has been decimated.
Further, (again as indicated in our report), unless the root causes of these societal problems are addressed, it is likely that there will be more of these types of incidents. We are witnessing the symptoms of deep rooted problems.
None of this is meant to be interpreted as an “excuse” for the behavior. Rather, it is meant to suggest that our response as a community should not be to use these types of incidents as an opportunity to drive further “wedges” of separation based on race, class or otherwise. Instead, we need to come together as a community and identify, develop and implement programs aimed at addressing the problems. The NAACP is prepared to work with others toward that end.
In addition, we have talked with law enforcement, including the Milwaukee Police Department and specifically Chief Flynn, about ways to facilitate better relations between the community and the police. We would like to work with citizens of Riverwest and other communities and with other organizations to face these challenges.
James Hall, President
NAACP – Milwaukee Branch
May 14, 2013 //
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