The NAACP Milwaukee Branch is troubled by the tragic manner in which Derek Williams, a 22 year old African American male, died on the back seat of a Milwaukee Police Department car on July 6, 2011. The indifference of police officers to his obvious suffering and distress, the circumstances surrounding the investigation by the Medical Examiner, District Attorney, the Police Department and the Fire and Police Commission, all call into question the credibility of responsible officials. A credible investigation must occur in a manner to provide justice for Derek Williams and to hold accountable those responsible for his death. This certainly requires District Attorney Chisholm to appoint an independent special prosecutor with charging authority.
As Derek Williams’ death is the most recent of many incidents involving the Milwaukee Police Department, U. S. Attorney Santelle should pursue a Federal investigation of “pattern and practice,” with the assistance of the U.S. Department of Justice. Mr. Williams’ survivors should also pursue appropriate civil rights actions.
More broadly, there must be reforms to the system resulting from Derek Williams’ death as the video depicts a clear disregard of life. Perhaps this may finally prove to be the catalyst necessary to deal with these breaches. A primary problem is the lack of enforcement of civil and human rights laws. The NAACP and others have been greatly concerned that we either lack critical laws to address civil and human rights concerns, or where we have laws, they are not enforced. Many communities have elevated the importance of enforcement of civil rights laws. When that occurs, it becomes a part of the culture. When a community such as Milwaukee fails to embrace these laws, it signals that the community does not value the laws or the people they protect.
We propose changes at City, County and State levels that, if implemented, we believe would enhance civil rights enforcement in our community. First, the Fire and Police Commission should be restructured as an independent, citizen led review board with subpoena powers. It must not be a mere “rubber stamp” but a body that takes seriously its responsibilities in recruiting, hiring, monitoring, disciplining, addressing citizen complaints and holding wrongdoers accountable. There are other cities that have review boards that are effective and transparent.
Second, the City Equal Rights Commission should be strengthened to enable it to hear and address citizen complaints of discrimination and equal rights violation. It would provide a forum for aggrieved citizens to address their complaints at the City level and serve as an additional deterrent for would-be wrong doers.
At the County level, we urge the Board of Supervisors to complete the re-establishment of the County Human Rights Commission and empower it in accordance with the County ordinances.
Its functions and duties include to receive reports on matters concerning equal rights of all persons within the county, to hold hearings, to provide advice to the County leaders and to act as a liaison with the community.
However, this Commission, like the City’s Equal rights Commission, has been inactive and dormant for many years – notwithstanding that we have some of the largest disparities in quality of life along racial lines in the nation.
Third, an Office of Human Rights should be created at the State level with the purpose of promoting human rights and equal opportunity throughout the State. Again, many other states, including our neighbors such as Minnesota and Iowa have such cabinet level departments while civil rights enforcement in the State of Wisconsin is buried several level down in the Equal Rights Division within the Department of Workforce Development.
In addition, our City and metropolitan area, its political, business, and civic leaders and citizens, must develop a culture of diversity and inclusion that values education and opportunity. The reduction and eradication of the poverty and hyper-segregation impacting our city must be a priority.
Public officials are charged with executing their duties in accordance with the requirements of laws protecting civil rights and providing for equal protection. The community demands that fairness and respect must be part of the equation, along with diversity and inclusion. The extent to which public officials incorporate, promote and implement policies and practices consistent with these values should weigh significantly in measuring their performance. The community deserves nothing less.
Madison -Representative Tamara Grigsby (D-Milwaukee) recently joined the chorus of Milwaukee officials calling for an independent federal criminal investigation into the Milwaukee Police Department’s treatment of Derek Williams and the pattern of civil rights abuses by the Department. Grigsby released the following statement: “This is not about the sudden emergence of ‘new information,’ as District Attorney Chisolm termed it, on Mr. Williams’ death. This is about the handling of information that already existed, and it is about a larger pattern of abuse and cover-ups over the years that have made it difficult to trust the Milwaukee Police Department. What else is the Department hiding? It’s time for an independent federal investigation to find out.
“For the Department to respond to our outrage with lip service about training officers is offensive. No amount of training could overcome the brutal disregard of another human being that the video footage of Mr. Williams’ death captures. If anything, it is the policies that allowed for a 14-month lag between his death and the release of the video footage that need to be reexamined. Reporters pressed for ten months before the Department finally relented. This was a drawn-out attempt to prevent Mr. Williams’ family and the public from
ever knowing the truth about his death.
“I do not see how anyone who watched the video, as Police Chief Flynn and DA Chisolm did, could not have known that Mr. Williams was slowly and painfully dying. Furthermore, it is impossible to imagine a slender 22 year-old young white man–handcuffed in the back of a squad car, gasping for air, and pleading for his life—being disregarded as Mr. Williams was. This sort of treatment is wrong, regardless of race, socioeconomic status, neighborhood, or any other classification.
“It is time for Milwaukee to stop its rise in the ranks of cities characterized by police brutality and civil rights abuses. We must hold the Department and the DA’s Office accountable for these injustices. Beyond this, the Department needs a complete overhaul, guided by the findings of independent federal investigators, to definitively end the corruption.”
Denver — Republican election officials who promised to root out voter fraud so far are finding little evidence of a widespread problem.
State officials in key presidential battleground states have found just a tiny fraction of the illegal voters they initially suspected.
Searches of voter lists in crucial swing states from Colorado and Florida have yielded numbers of ineligible voters that amount to less than one-tenth of 1 percent of all registered voters in either state.
Democrats argue that the searches waste time and, worse, could disenfranchise eligible voters who are swept up in the checks.
Republicans contend that voting fraud is no small affair, even if there are few cases, especially when some elections are decided by hundreds of votes.
More than 350 participants expected to attend conference that explores how communities can use data to improve outcomes for kids
More than 350 educators, elected officials, community leaders, business leaders and others representing 60 communities in 31 states are expected to attend the 2012 national Strive convening September 27 and 28 at the Frontier Airlines Center downtown.
Target, which has a long history of supporting education programs and partnerships that set students, teachers and schools up for success, is a signature sponsor of the event. Target is on track to give $1 billion for education by the end of 2015.
The convening, titled “Moving from Proving to Improving,” will explore how communities building a Cradle to Career civic infrastructure use data more effectively to improve academic achievement. A copy of the agenda can be found online. U.S. attendees will be joined by colleagues from Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom.
Strive Managing Director Jeff Edmondson will speak at the opening session of the event at 8 a.m., Thursday, September 27, and will be joined by Milwaukee County District Attorney, John Chisholm, who will make opening remarks. Other speakers include Paul Schmitz, CEO of Public Allies, who will address attendees at a 5:30 p.m. reception Thursday;
State University of New York Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher; Patrick McCarthy, CEO of Annie E. Casey Foundation; Deborah Delisle, Assistant Secretary, U.S. Department of Education; Mike Lovell, chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee; and Stacey Stewart, executive vice president of United Way Worldwide.
The entire event is open to the press, and @strivenetwork will be micro blogging. Follow the convening under the Twitter hash tag, #StriveC2C.
In 2011, the Greater Milwaukee Foundation created Milwaukee Succeeds, which united the community around a set of strategies to achieve a shared vision of success for every child, in every school, cradle to career – alongside the work of traditional education agencies. As part of the Strive network of cradle to career communities, Milwaukee has become one of 70 locations across the United States that is actively engaged in this work.
“We are honored to have the annual Strive convening in Milwaukee this year, because it is a reflection of our long-term commitment to make a difference in the lives of kids,” said Ellen M. Gilligan, president and CEO, Greater Milwaukee Foundation. “Milwaukee Succeeds represents something really positive because its existence marks the first time where all stakeholders — public and charter advocates — are coming together in the name of the best interest of our children.”
The convening includes sessions based on the four pillars of the Cradle to Career framework, a proven process to share expertise, identify and adapt programs that work, and develop effective tools and resources that can help resolve specific challenges. That framework includes a shared community vision, evidence-based decision making, collaborative action, and investment and sustainability.
Edmondson said he hopes the convening’s theme will resonate with attendees and help them think about the use of data differently.
“Historically in the social sector we use data to pick winners and losers, the programs or systems that are good or bad. Communities building cradle to career partnerships are on the cutting edge when it comes to ensuring we use data as a critical tool to better serve children,” Edmondson said. “This convening will help them share lessons and capture best practices.”
Chancellor Zimpher, who formerly served as chancellor at UWM, praised Milwaukee’s progress and pointed out the importance of collaborative action.
“We do not yet have a system of public education in this country, but thanks to regions like Milwaukee, where leaders in education, business, and community are collaborating to put local systems in place, we are making progress,” Zimpher said. “By uniting local leaders in a commitment to educate more students, educate them better, and educate them together, Milwaukee serves as a model for the nation.”
Strive, a subsidiary of KnowledgeWorks, works with communities nationwide and helps them create a civic infrastructure to unite stakeholders around shared goals, measures and results in education, supporting the success of every child, cradle to career. Our national work is rooted in the success of a collaborative, cradle to career partnership in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky, founded in 2006.
Cardinal Stritch University Wolves Athletics will add eight new athletics teams for the 2013-2014 academic year, university officials announced today.
The new teams will include men’s track and field, women’s track and field, men’s bowling, women’s bowling, men’s tennis, women’s tennis, men’s golf and women’s golf.
“Stritch has long embraced the leadership and character development that come with athletic participation,” said Dr. James Loftus, Stritch president. “These additions will not only afford new opportunities for our students to seek out those enriching activities, but will also enhance the student life experience for our entire campus community.”
An in-depth demographic analysis of college students in Wisconsin and nationwide took place, which revealed high interest in these new programs. For example, according to the National Research Center for College and University Admissions, the appeal of bowling as a participatory activity will increase by 9.4 percent for students in Wisconsin and 5.6 percent for students nationally in the next five years. Increases are also anticipated in golf, tennis, and track and field.
The Stritch Wolves are affiliated with the National Association for Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) and are part of the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference (CCAC). The new teams will compete in the same conference, with the exception of bowling, which is an emerging sport in the NAIA. Student bowlers will attend tournaments in and out of state.
“This marks a new day for athletics at Stritch,” said Patrick Clemens, Stritch athletic director. “We are excited about bringing new student athletes to campus and sharing the traditions of Stritch with them, as well as adding new opportunities for our students and creating new levels of excitement for our student body.”
Arrangements for home facilities are being finalized and will be announced later, Clemens said.
Athletics has long played an important role at Stritch. In 1971, basketball became the first intercollegiate sport for men. Over the years, additional programs were added, including women’s basketball, men’s baseball, women’s softball, men’s and women’s cross country, men’s and women’s soccer, and men’s and women’s volleyball.
Since 2008, Stritch Athletics has had 59 all-conference athletes, 13 NAIA All-Americans, 40 Stritch Scholar Athletes, 51 CCAC Scholar Athletes, 25 NAIA Scholar Athletes, nine NAIA National Tournament appearances, 19 conference tournament appearances, nine regular season conference championships, five conference tournament championships, seven conference coaches of the year, and five conference players of the year.
Ralph Hollmon, president and ceo of the Milwaukee Urban League (standing in rear center) joined MUL officials in helping area children get a leg up on the school year by supplying them with back packs and school supplies at the 30th annual Health and Resource Fair held recently at the Fitzsimmonds Boys & Girls Club, 3400 W. North Ave. Many families took advantage of free health screenings for their children which included immunizations, blood pressure and vision tests. The free back packs were made possible by funding raised at the Urban League’s 30th Black and White Ball. (Photo by Yvonne Kemp)
A ‘Stain’ for a Football Program is a Life Sentence for Victims, Author Says
While media and collegiate officials debated how best to handle the Penn State child-rape scandal, including the systemic cover-up by university leaders, others want the public to know just how such abuse ruins lives.
“I’ve heard commentators say things like, ‘What’s done is done,’ or ‘There’s no one left to go after,’ or ‘Why punish the students and the athletes? – It’s time to heal,’ ” says child advocate Linda O’Dochartaigh, whose novel Peregrine (www.lavanderkatbooks.com), details the stark aftermath of child sex abuse. “If they were the victims, or their children were, I don’t think those sports analysts would be so quick to forgive and forget.”
To hear supporters of the university’s football program is surprisingly reminiscent of those who defend abusers, she says.
Penn State’s board could do the noble thing and make it easy on themselves by self imposing the “death penalty” option – temporarily shutting down the embattled football program, she says.
“As terrible as the initial abuse is for children, the volume of lifelong negative consequences is usually worse,” O’Dochartaigh says. “Children who suffer sexual abuse often hear the voice of their abuser in their minds for the rest of their lives, telling them they’re bad, they’re ugly, they’re worthless. These children are often sentenced to a lifetime of relationships in which they are victims.”
O’Dochartaigh reviews the lasting scars of child sexual abuse:
• Trouble handling emotions: One of the surest signs of well-being is the ability to handle adversity in stride; to keep emotions in check. “For victims of sexual abuse, a lasting legacy is the opposite of well-being,” she says. Victims may have trouble expressing emotions, which are then bottled up, often leading to sporadic bouts of depression, anger and anxiety. Many turn to drugs and alcohol to numb their pain.
• A core sense of worthlessness or being damaged: The physical side of sexual abuse is just one aspect; what haunts victims is the voice of the abuser, constantly reinforcing a lack of personal value. As time passes and children mature into adults, victims often do not invest in themselves. With a deep sense of being damaged, they often feel incapable or unworthy of higher-paying jobs, for example.
• Difficulty in relationships and lack of trust: Most child abuse comes from authority figures who are close to the victim – family members, family friends, church leaders, teachers, etc. Children who cannot feel secure within their own family, the most fundamental of relationships, may develop deep-seeded trust issues. Relationships are frequently doomed because victims trash good relationships, fearing their partner will ultimately try to control or hurt them, or they’ll bond with an abusive person because they do not know what a good relationship entails.
“When I hear the ‘yeah, but’ argument from people defending those who allow sexual abuse to continue, whether its’ at Penn State or in the Catholic Church, I realize we have to do more to raise awareness about how sexual abuse can ruin lives,” says O’Dochartaigh.
About Linda O’Dochartaigh
Linda O’Dochartaigh has worked in health care is an advocate for victims of child abuse and domestic violence. She wants survivors to know that an enriched, stable and happy life is available to them. O’Dochartaigh is the mother of three grown children and is raising four adopted grandchildren.