“We have to find a way to unite:” Leaders hope to bridge gap between police, African-American community

MILWAUKEE -- It is no easy conversation, but it is an important one to have. Milwaukee leaders on Monday, September 19th came together to talk about the relationship between police and the African-American community.

"What will we do to move ourselves to a different place?" Senator Lena Taylor said.

Senator Lena Taylor

Senator Lena Taylor

In the wake of unrest in Milwaukee following the fatal officer-involved shooting of Sylville Smith on August 13th, came a discussion about race and police on Monday.

Mike Crivello

Mike Crivello

"We're all in this together, so we have to find a way to unite," Mike Crivello, president of the Milwaukee Police Association said.

Local leaders said they want to bridge the gap in Milwaukee.

"The relationship between the community and the police has been challenged," Senator Taylor said.

All lives matter panel

Panel participants said the goal is justice for all, and building trust -- no easy feat.

"How are we gonna move forward -- bringing black and white and other races together?" Deanna Alexander, Milwaukee County supervisor said.

Sylville Smith

Sylville Smith

A big question, as the community awaits a major decision that could lead to more anger.

The Wisconsin Department of Justice's Division of Criminal Investigation has concluded its investigation into the officer-involved death of Smith.

Smith's shooting sparked the unrest in the Sherman Park neighborhood.

Now, the Milwaukee County district attorney must decide whether to issue criminal charges against the officer responsible for Smith's death.

"I'm withholding judgment until I have all of the information," Ashanti Hamilton, Milwaukee Common Council president said.

Unrest in Milwaukee

Unrest in Milwaukee

Hamilton is urging a peaceful response, regardless of the outcome.

Ashanti Hamilton

Ashanti Hamilton

"One of the things we don't want to do is destroy things and, you know, destabilize our communities," Hamilton said.

Body camera video of the incident hasn't been released, but police say Smith was armed.

Hamilton said he's hoping for transparency and fairness.

"Ensuring that there's a sense of justice for everybody involved," Hamilton said.

The message from the panel Monday was that we're all in this together -- that black lives matter and blue lives matter.

All lives matter panel

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4 comments

  • confused

    How about not breaking laws. Listen when the cops says stop. The VERY 1st time. Do not get all mouthy. Do not try and fight with the cop. Remember this was not a black on white deal with Smith. This was a black officer stopping a black man, man ran, man waved gun, man refused to drop gun (at least what we’ve been told by media so far) man gets shot. If people decide to loot and burn when the decision comes out, please let it burn. No fire trucks, no cops, no ambulances. If that’s what the people want, let ’em have exactly that.

  • The inner city of Milwaukee doesn't really know what racism is, it's just an excuse for them.

    They keep putting up Sylville Smith as an example of racist cop interaction.. That was black on black!! The only racism issue between the police and the citizens is that it is used an excuse for the black community to try and make people forget that they weren’t doing as instructed by the police, that they had a weapon that they refused to drop, that they were breaking the law and decided to run or fight the cop. Stop breaking the law and do as the police say.. this is simple.. your parents should have taught you that instead of “just cry racism whenever you get in trouble”.

    • Chattipatti

      Coming from a Black women, mother, and daughter, if I did something wrong I owned it. Shame on all the leaders who keep putting this low life in the lime light. The gun was stolen, he ran from the cop, and would not drop the gun. I would never move back to Milwaukee because no one not even the leaders will take responsibility for the issues.

      • Opinion8d

        @Chattipatti – I couldn’t agree more. I’m tired of the ‘leaders’ simply pandering to the people for votes instead of creating the change that is needed.