Proclaiming that it is the ghetto that needs to be fixed and not the police, Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke said Sunday at a press conference that a repeat of the violence that plagued the city Saturday night cannot be allowed to happen.
Rioting overnight in the city was sparked when a police officer fatally shot a black suspect who was trying to flee from an officer who had stopped his car. Police said the officer, who also is black, appeared to have acted lawfully after the suspect turned towards him with a gun in his hand.
In defending his decision to ask for the National Guard to be deployed, Clarke vowed that the violence will not be allowed to get out hand – citing Ferguson, Missouri and Baltimore – where rioting broke out after black men died during incidents there involving police.
"People have to find a more socially acceptable way to deal with their frustration, their anger and resentment," Clarke said. "We cannot have the social upheaval – the chaos that we saw [Saturday] night that frightens good, law-abiding people in those neighborhoods. … We have a growth of the underclass here in Milwaukee. And we saw some of their behaviors on display. Fortunately, the loss of life of innocent civilians and law enforcement personnel did not happen. I think only by the grace of God, with bullets flying all over the place."
Clarke said "You are better off having the resources at the ready ... You prepare for the worst, and if you never need all these [National Guard soldiers], fantastic."
The sheriff emphasized that the shooting of the suspect only ignited a situation that already existed, and it is failed urban policies that are to blame.
These conditions include failed public schools, homes without a father, inadequate parenting and the presence of gangs and drugs in these neighborhoods, along with massive unemployment.
Clarke said that these conditions fuel resentment, anger and frustration, which boils just beneath the surface before an incident ignites it, and then it is hijacked for political reasons.
Clarke also said an inadequate criminal justice system that gives criminals too many chances and not enough punishment creates an atmosphere where those breaking the law do not fear the consequences of their actions.
He said, for example, that the suspect who was killed had been arrested 13 times for serious offences, but was still free on the night of the incident.
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