Statement of Alderman Khalif J. Rainey
December 15, 2016
I welcome the news today that the District Attorney’s office has charged former Milwaukee police officer Dominique Heaggan-Brown with first-degree reckless homicide in the fatal on-duty shooting of Sylville Smith. But also, I cannot help but feel some hope that the wheels of justice might finally be grinding into action.
This is a significant step for the integrity of the justice system in a case that has caused great pain in the Sherman Park neighborhood, and has sent shockwaves throughout our city, state and nation. Through its independent investigation, the state’s Department of Justice has determined that Smith raised his gun and was tossing it away when Officer Heaggan-Brown opened fire on him. Acting on their findings, the District Attorney today announced the charges. I do not think that there can be any doubt that the District Attorney was right to do so.
My thoughts are with the Smith family today as their search for truth and rectitude continues. I hope that they find some comfort in the fact that their son’s killer is being prosecuted, and I hope as well that we learn many more of the answers to their questions.
We should strive for a world in which no one is above the justice system—especially those who take an oath to protect and serve their community. Today’s decision was a step in that direction, but there remains much work to do.
Statement of Alderman Russell W. Stamper, II
December 15, 2016
Given the new information about the police body camera footage of the shooting of Sylville Smith, I think there can be no question that the District Attorney’s office made the right call today in issuing charges against former police officer Dominique Heaggan-Brown.
After what our community went through in the aftermath of the shooting, I hope that this is a significant step in the healing process for many. For Mr. Smith’s family especially, I hope they find some comfort in knowing that the justice system is pursuing exactly what the family has demanded since this all began—justice.
We must remain diligent in our efforts to seek justice, and the filing of these charges serves as only a starting point.
According to a groundbreaking Health Impact Assessment, the Wisconsin Department of Corrections (DOC) incarcerated nearly 3,000 people on probation, parole or extended supervision in 2015 who were not convicted of crimes. The DOC sent these people back to prison solely for violating rules of supervision. It is time for Wisconsin policymakers to stop this unjust practice.
Human Impact Partners, WISDOM, and EXPO (EX-Prisoners Organizing) conducted the assessment, which examines how incarcerating people without conviction affects the health of individuals, families and communities. Findings include:
- The average term served for a crimeless revocation is 1.5 years;
- This practice costs Wisconsin taxpayers $150 million per year;
- Though only 6 percent of people in Wisconsin identify as black, 40 percent of people who the DOC incarcerated without conviction in 2015 identify as black;
- Though only 18 percent of people in Wisconsin suffer from mental illness, 44 percent of people who the DOC sent back to prison without conviction in 2015 suffer from mental illness;
- 2,700 Wisconsin children each year have a parent incarcerated for a simple rule violation.
On Nov. 22, WISDOM and EXPO released a book of stories entitled “Incarcerated Without Conviction: The Abuse of Revocation in Wisconsin.” The book includes the stories of several African-American men and women and several people with mental illnesses who have been incarcerated for minor infractions that did not involve new crimes.
Numerous stories demonstrate how incarceration without conviction can devastate black lives. The DOC forced EXPO leader Frank Davis to spend almost three years in prison for simply owning a computer and a cell phone. The DOC imprisoned EXPO of Milwaukee leader Wayne Murphy for 32 months for passing out drunk in public. Wisconsin officials incarcerated EXPO of Milwaukee leader Troy Hawkins for 18 months because he used alcohol and drugs and had sex without prior agent approval.
Wisconsin administrators sent EXPO of Milwaukee leader Ventae Parrow back to prison without conviction on three separate occasions. Parrow said, “It’s frustrating when you’re out here working a job, going to college, having a place to lay your head and helping your family out and then whenever they feel like it they snatch the rug from under your feet and they place you in prison even though you have not committed any crime.”
The DOC forced Louis Taylor to spend months in the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF) for several unsubstantiated allegations that his ex-girlfriend made after they broke up. Taylor’s experience with the revocation process in Wisconsin prompted him to say, “Black lives will never matter in Wisconsin.”
My story demonstrates how incarceration without conviction can harm people living with mental illness. A psychiatrist diagnosed me with paranoid schizophrenia in 1999. The state of Wisconsin convicted me of several offenses that were related to this disabling mental condition.
During the summer of 2007, Milwaukee police officers arrested me for disorderly conduct while I was experiencing symptoms of my mental illness. I was still on probation for a crime I was convicted of in 2000 so the officers took me to jail.
The officers arrested me a few days before I was going to start my second year of graduate school at UW-Milwaukee. During the 2006-2007 school year, I worked as a project assistant at the university and received a full-tuition scholarship.
I went to court after spending a few days in the Milwaukee County Jail. The judge, the prosecutor, and the public defender all agreed that my behavior did not fit with the definition of disorderly conduct. The judge dismissed the case, but I did not get to go home.
My probation officer, who had no specialized training in mental health issues, decided to move forward with the revocation process. My former probation officer, a mental health specialist in Madison, thought that an alternative to revocation treatment program would have been a better option.
The DOC forced me to spend nearly six months in MSDF while I fought the revocation. An administrative law judge eventually revoked my probation. I went back in front of the sentencing judge a few weeks later. I faced a maximum of 12 years in prison but, fortunately for me, the sentencing judge decided to let me go home.
I lost my job, my scholarship and my apartment because of the revocation. I also lost my Supplemental Security Income, health insurance and FoodShare benefits. I had to re-apply for all of these benefits after I got released.
I returned to UW-Milwaukee after my release. However, I never got my job and scholarship back. I earned a master’s degree from the university in 2009.
It is time for the DOC to eliminate incarceration as a response to non-criminal violations of the rules of parole, probation and extended supervision.
Mark Rice, a Wisconsin statewide EXPO organizer.
How race baiting was used against Mayor Zeidler in 1956 campaign. Excerpt from new book.
Big dreams met with even bigger opportunities at the North Side Milwaukee Business Incubator held Thursday, Dec. 8. Entrepreneurs pitched more than a dozen enterprising ideas at the workshop hosted by St. Ann Center for Intergenerational Care, in collaboration with Ald. Russell W. Stamper II and the Marketplace Business Improvement District 32.
“We were very impressed with the quality of business ideas brought forth by people in the neighborhood,” said John Jansen, coordinator of the event, held at St. Ann Center’s Bucyrus Campus, 2450 W. North Ave. “The incubator provided them with a wealth of information that’s crucial for any successful business start-up.”
Resource panelists ranged from local banks offering traditional loans to crowdfunding sources to training programs offered by the UW-Milwaukee Small Business Development Center and the Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corporation.
Twelve entrepreneurs from Aldermanic District 15 presented their business plans to a panel of investors, lawyers and mentors; about 70 more people listened in. With the theme “Building the Neighborhood from Within,” the incubator aimed to promote homegrown commerce by tapping the talents and creativity of residents who live and work in the district, specifically the 53205 and 53206 ZIP codes.
Marshall Harley shared his idea for the Green Source Juice Bar Café and Lounge. Designed to look like a corner pub, the cafe will serve cold-pressed juices made from locally grown fruits and vegetables along with fresh-made sandwiches. He called his idea the answer to the problems of “a community that’s an ailing food desert with unhealthy food choices.” Another product Harley pitched is an app that alerts the user’s chosen contacts, local authorities and service providers about a violent or potentially violent domestic situation.
Marvin Jones proposed a shared commercial kitchen and storage facility for food trucks, caterers and entrepreneurs developing a food product, as well as a training facility for workers in the food service industry. A possible user of such a facility is Orlando Butler, who passed out samples of Butler Bars, a line of gourmet dessert bars he developed.
Francesa Dawson, who has experience in property management, plans to offer a counseling and education service for residents dealing with absentee landlords. Charmaine Fowlkes proposed two ideas—one for adults and one for teens. She hopes to market her own line of original recipe wines. In addition, she’d like to start a nonprofit organization she calls Not Just a Basketball Player that helps teens examine their strengths, hone social skills and explore potential careers.
In an effort to increase options for residents in need of alley plowing services, the Milwaukee Common Council and Mayor Tom Barrett have dramatically reduced the fee to obtain a snow plowing equipment license through legislation sponsored by Alderman Cavalier Johnson.
Starting on Tuesday, December 13, the fee to obtain a license will decrease from $50 to $10. The City of Milwaukee does not plow alleys within the city, and city ordinance requires any person, firm or corporation engaged in the business of removing snow or ice from public sidewalks or public alleys to obtain a license to do so.
“Very often, the residents on a block will band together to hire a contractor who plows their alley during the winter,” Alderman Johnson said. “But what I am hearing from residents in my district is that it is increasingly difficult to find contractors to do the work. I hope that by lowering the fee to obtain a license, and by shedding some light on the need for more private plow contractors, we might generate more options for residents in need of these services.”
Currently, there are only two companies licensed to offer plowing services in public city alleys. Going forward, the city will post a list of licensed plowing contractors on the License Division web page at milwaukee.gov/license, updated daily.
Applications for a license under the reduced fee structure will be available on the License Division web page starting on Tuesday, December 13.
The Salvation Army
In this season of giving, we thank you for remembering The Salvation Army. With only 18 days until Christmas, we need to raise $2,602,642 to meet our $4 million Red Kettle Campaign goal.
Red Kettle Christmas Spectacular
Monday, December 19
Doors Open: 6:30pm
Program Starts: 7:30pm
in the beautiful Wisconsin Club Grand Ballroom
Let us take you back to the days of yesteryear! This old-time variety show benefiting The Salvation Army, hosted by TV personality Deleono Johnson, includes a musical cavalcade of stars:Robin Pluer, Joe 2.0, Xeno, St. Mark AME Gospel, I Cellisti, Milwaukee Opera Theater, Chris Hanson, Lynda Lee Schlitz, Mike KryscioEvent Producer Joe Ketchum promises,
“everything you ever loved about Christmas music!”
More than 5,000 MPS students will receive free books to continue building their own home libraries and develop their reading skills through the My Very Own Library (MVOL) literacy initiative which is dedicated to putting books into the hands of children in need. This is the second year of the initiative in the City of Milwaukee.
Children at Hopkins Lloyd Community School listened to children’s author Sundee Frazier read an excerpt from her book Cleo Edison Oliver, Playground Millionaire and have an opportunity to ask her questions.
Milwaukee is one of seven communities selected to take part in the MVOL program, which is supported by the Feeley Family Foundation, Scholastic Book Fairs, Milwaukee Public Schools, and United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County. Inaugural partners United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County and Milwaukee Public Schools continue to support MVOL at ten MPS schools and a new contribution from the Zilber Foundation has allowed the program to add four additional schools: Doerfler Elementary, Longfellow Elementary, Milwaukee College Prep – Lloyd St, and Milwaukee College Prep – Lola Rowe.
The program kicked off in December of 2015 and during the last school year, the My Very Own Library program distributed 34,200 books to students in 10 MPS schools; Kluge; Auer Avenue School; Brown Street Academy; Hopkins Lloyd Community School; Jackson Early Childhood and Elementary School; Kagel School; Lancaster School; James Whitcomb Riley School; Townsend Street School; and Clement J. Zablocki School. At the end of this school year students in these fourteen schools will have received 50,000 books for their home libraries.
About My Very Own Library: The My Very Own Library program is unlike any other book distribution program because it incorporates the critical component of choice, parental engagement and school partnerships. Founded in 2011 by the late Anne Feeley (1954-2012), My Very Own Library was first implemented in Newark, NJ, and has expanded year after year. To date, My Very Own Library has provided more than 1.2 million books to students in Newark, NJ; Richmond, CA; Chicago, IL; Wilmington, DE; Kansas City, KS; Milwaukee, WI; and the Dominican Republic. By summer 2017, My Very Own Library will have provided nearly 1.6 million books to students across all seven locations it will serve.For more information on My Very Own Library, or for details on making a donation, please visit www.myveryownlibrary.org