It’s too early to tell whether the Memorial Day shootings are the prelude to a violent summer in Milwaukee.
But it’s a safe bet that it will be a summer of talking about scary brown people on WTMJ. Or rather, talking about scary brown people while not saying scary brown people.
Failed state attorney general turned WTMJ talker Jeff Wagner got the chatter going Tuesday afternoon. The Brawler listened in as he tooled through the rainy streets of the city. And what the Brawler recalls is that Wagner was lamenting that suburbanites are going to be too afraid to come into the city for fear of getting caught in the crossfire – or in the goddamn cruiser-created congestion on Lincoln Memorial Drive.
He said, again and again, that he didn’t want to tell people not to come. Which he didn’t. He let his listeners do that.
They called and emailed from Cedarburg and Hartland and Port Washington. Too scared to go to Summerfest. Too scared to go into the city – even if there was a concealed handgun law. Hated driving home to the North Shore after leaving work at night.
No one said they were afraid of scary brown people. Instead they said things like “they all have guns.” Or how they drink all day. One caller broke the mold and referred to “inner city people.”
Like Wagner, the Brawler is a native son of Milwaukee. And the Brawler knows when white people talk about “they” or “inner city people” they’re referring to blacks and Hispanics. That’s really not a secret.
Here’s something else that’s not a secret: Rather than seriously taking on how to solve these problems all Wagner and Co. are going to do is demand draconian police action. And the Brawler isn’t saying that there is a role for more cops on the streets – something Barrett already has called for.
But the Brawler also believes that simply sending out cops to lock up black kids and Hispanic kids – an image that surely warms the cockles of Wagner’s suburban listenership – isn’t going to solve this problem. In fact, it could exacerbate it.
The Brawler does not pretend to know the answers to the very real challenges the city faces -- and faced before Memorial Day weekend. But the Brawler knows that Wagner and company -- do not have them either.
As a side note, a friend of the Brawler missed the South Shore Park shooting by five minutes. Somehow the Brawler’s friend found the courage to bike around the city.
So if Wagner’s listeners are too scared to come down to Summerfest, that’s great. Just fewer slow-walking, sunburned yahoos clogging up the beer lines.