At least, that’s how I remember it.
I had zero plans to write anything of this, but I am originally a “Wisconsinite,” so my inside knowledge compels me to say something.
The news has not been putting my home state in a favorable light these days, and in my eyes, it’s been a long time coming. At first, I was asking myself what the heck has been wrong with Wisconsin lately, but then I reminded myself that this state has always been like this. The only difference is that it’s just making the mainstream news now. Finally, the whole world is seeing Wisconsin for what it is. Wisconsin is very violent. It always has been. Milwaukee, in particular, is very violent. It always has been. It doesn’t help that Milwaukee is one of the most racially segregated cities in the United States either.
I don’t think it matters that the guy driving the SUV was African American. His race shouldn’t be relevant to the story, but this is America, specifically the Milwaukee version of America (he was from Milwaukee), so there you have it. His blackness IS part of the story. Seriously? That really matters? If you listen to the media then, yes, that’s an important piece to know. The story should be focused on the fact that many people died unnecessarily. The story should be about figuring out WHY those people died. The story should be about the disparity in this country and how it’s manifesting itself in negative ways. But, it’s not. Yes, the driver had a criminal record. The story should be about WHY did he have a criminal record? Oh, was it because this country doesn’t value black people, and the system is set up to keep them in poverty?
America lacks all kinds of safety nets. There is little to no support for impoverished people to better themselves. The poor stay poor, the criminals stay disenfranchised, and the mentally ill stay sick. America doesn’t care about its citizens and does little to nothing to encourage wellness.
Everyone knows about the Columbine murders, but has anyone heard of the Leonard McDowell shooting? No, of course not, no one has because it was just one murder among many that happened in Wisconsin. Six years before Columbine, Leonard McDowell brought a gun into school and shot the vice-principal dead in the hallway. Leonard was a kid that had mental problems (he would call in bomb threats whenever he was running late to school, thus making everyone stand outside in the cold while the bomb squad ran a thorough check over campus), but the teachers never knew how to deal with him. Leonard was mercilessly picked on by the other kids, and I know this because I went to school with him. His locker was located next to mine, and I always tried to be nice to him only because I was afraid of him (potentially) breaking into my locker. He was always getting suspended for something, and the last straw was when he got up in the middle of science class to fondle the teacher’s breasts. It took six cops to strap him to a table and cart him off the premises. He wasn’t allowed to return after that, but he kept showing up in the hallways (he lived across the street from the school.) The vice-principal, Mr. Breitlow had the thankless job of having to always remove him somehow. Had Leonard stayed in school, he would have graduated with my class in 1991. Instead, he was still wandering the hallways in 1993 and shot Mr. Breitlow six times and killed him. Mr. Breitlow’s son was in a classroom and heard his father getting murdered. It took the police a couple of days to locate Leonard, and when they found him, he was hiding in a bush across the street from the school.
This country has never had a decent safety net for mental health issues. EVERYONE knew that Leonard had a problem, but nothing was ever done to help him. As far as criminals go, this country needs to establish a rehabilitation program to get its citizens onto a path of success. The driver of the SUV might not have had a reason to go to Waukesha to engage in shenanigans if he had somewhere more important to be. Leonard would never have shot the vice-principal had he received proper mental health treatment. There is a bigger picture to be seen here. We as a country need to take a step back and take a hard look at ourselves.