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Milwaukee Urban League President and CEO Dr. Eve S. Hall issued a statement on Sunday. (PHOTO: Milwaukee Urban League)

Milwaukee Urban League message on recent unrest

Here, in its entirety, is a statement issued Sunday afternoon by the Milwaukee Urban League's President and CEO Dr. Eve M. Hall:

Dr. Martin Luther King stated "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly."

We have witnessed the deaths of unarmed black individuals resulting from fatal interactions with police such as George Floyd in Minneapolis just days ago and Breonna Taylor in Louisville in March. Included is the death of unarmed Ahmaud Arbery in South Georgia in February by ordinary citizens, and an attempted false accusation of Christian Cooper by another ordinary citizen in New York in May. As we look at our own city, the recent death of Joel Acevedo by an off-duty police officer and continued memories of Dontre Hamilton, along with other present and past cases, are still reeling in people's minds and hearts.

These are difficult scenes to re-count, but a reality we must all deal with because it is an all too familiar outcome of an arrest or encounter gone awry for a disproportionate number of unarmed African Americans and other people of color in this country. The difference in many cases is social media can capture these incidents to help tell stories that are often missed or underreported.

The horrific and graphic scene, however of George Floyd, witnessed by millions around the country, took everyone over the edge. What started about three months ago as a health crisis heavily impacting metropolitan areas around the country, black and brown communities suffering the most in every aspect of life, has now turned into the same communities reacting to injustice. Protests and rallies began peacefully by well-intentioned and concerned citizens of all races and backgrounds. Unfortunately, peace was compromised by individuals whose motives were mired in destruction and chaos. This distraction is chipping away attention from the real issues.

Columnist James Causey in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel front page said it well, "Don't let looters obscure protest message." The real test and reminder for all of us in leadership positions, whether elected, appointed, paid, or as volunteers, is to not lose focus and to address the ongoing inequities, racism, and injustices and the policies and systems perpetuating them head on. History demonstrates when the economy spirals specifically to the historic depths we are now experiencing, the "isms," frustrations, and pinned up anger surface in some not so friendly ways as individuals and families attempt to survive. Fueled by the lockdown of our country and small businesses being closed or unable to secure payroll protection, tensions have also been accelerated.

We must each use our platforms to change Milwaukee and this state with candid discussions and strategies to improve race relations, police and community respect and trust, media stereotyping, and equitable socioeconomic outcomes. As the Milwaukee Urban League, we join with all of you and with the other almost 90 urban leagues around the country to thoughtfully strategize and plan together our way through this complex and challenging time.

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