MILWAUKEE, Wis. (SPECTRUM NEWS) —— On Monday afternoon, more than 2 thousand people came out to help clean up the Harambee neighborhood and to show their solidarity.
The over due community clean up was put on hold because of the pandemic, but expedited by the recent protests.
“If you look at the people in this parking lot it’s like a rainbow coalition. People with vested interest so that Milwaukee can get beyond this and move forward,” said Senator LaTonya Johnson of Milwaukee.
As an African American female and elected official, she can relate to the anger and frustration that people of color feeling in Wisconsin and across the country.
“George Floyd could have been my father, or one of my brothers, so you know systematic racism is real. I feel it every day ,but in that same breath the looting and the vandalizing just re-victimizes the people who live in these neighborhoods all over again,” said Johnson.
Bethany Sanchez of Milwaukee was among the thousands who came out to help with the clean up and show her support for her community.
“I want to acknowledge the pain that so many people have been feeling for years particularly people of color. Especially black people and i want to make sure that I register my displeasure with what is going on in our country and our community and help make it better,” Sanchez said.
The clean up is about something bigger than just picking up trash.
“It lets you know that people understand what happened this weekend wasn’t about just destruction it was giving a voice to the voiceless,” Representative David Crowley of Milwaukee said.
Protests have been a tradition before the republic was founded. Protests represent every Americans right to stand up (or sit down) and demand change.
“As an African American male when I see things like the George Floyd incident ,the Dontre Hamilton’s…when I see those events,I think about myself. I realize that I can also be that hashtag.There is nothing separating me from being that. For me, it hits home… it hurts. I hope that my colleagues in the legislature can come together in the next session and in a bi-partisan effort that we can actually apply policy that can make a change make an impact where we have a more fair justice system. We need to stop saying we are need change . It’s time we come together and bring about that change,” Representative Kalan Haywood of Milwaukee said.
Meanwhile, actually evoking change when all the noise is gone requires lots of work.
“We need to hold people accountable - but for the individuals that are looting and vandalizing. Our communities need to stop because at the end of the day when the cameras stop being here, when people have moved on and forgotten about the riots of 2020 - the individuals who still live in these communities … they still have to be here - the children still need to be here and that always needs to be at the forefront of our minds no matter who we are,” Johnson said.