Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo and teammates marched with a group protesting racial injustice in Milwaukee. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
For the ninth day in a row in Milwaukee, calls for change echoed in the streets following the death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer.
Day by day, protests have become more organized, more widespread and more impassioned.
Six Milwaukee Bucks players, including star Giannis Antetokounmpo, joined marchers on the city’s near west side. The players, wearing T-shirts that said, “I can’t breathe,” pulled up in two trucks with several U-Haul vans that contained drinks and snacks for protesters.
“This is our city, man,” Antetokounmpo told the marchers, adding, “We want change. We want justice.”
Antetokounmpo was joined by Bucks teammates Sterling Brown, Donte DiVincenzo, Brook Lopez, two-way player Frank Mason II and Thanasis Antetokounmpo, Giannis’ brother.
Giannis’ girlfriend, Mariah Riddlesprigger, and their young son, Liam, also made an appearance.
“I want my kid to grow up here in Milwaukee, and not to be scared to walk in the streets,” Antetokounmpo said.
Brown’s participation in the march is particularly poignant. In January 2018, a group of Milwaukee Police Department officers took Brown to the ground, tased and arrested him after a parking violation at a Walgreens, prompting an internal investigation that ended with several officers suspended and others retrained. Brown was not charged in the incident.
Brown has filed a lawsuit against the city. He rejected a $400,000 settlement offer.
‘If it’s not making you uncomfortable, it’s not working’
Earlier Saturday, 20 people waited in line at Cream City Print Lounge in West Allis to make custom T-shirts and face masks to wear to protests.
For Fednise and Monise Stark and Carley Rias, it was important they were one of the first in line. They had a protest in Shorewood to get to, and wanted attire that set them apart.
On her shirt, Fednise Stark had printed: “We marchin’ to justice for our brothers and our sisters” on the front, “No justice, no peace” on the back.
For Monise: “My black is: legal, unapologetic, and beautiful” on the front, “Black Lives Matter” on the back.
Vaun Mayes, a community activist, said the last few days have been a little chaotic.
“The number of protests going on, nobody can keep up with it,” he said.
Milwaukee has seen multiple protests each day this week, but the activism isn’t confined to Wisconsin’s largest city. On Saturday alone, protests took place in Green Bay, Wausau, Oconomowoc, Cedarburg, Whitefish Bay, Shorewood, Brown Deer, Brookfield and Stevens Point.
Democratic state Rep. David Bowen told around 1,500 people gathered in Shorewood’s Atwater Park that the Legislature, Congress and city officials are blocking policies that he said would reduce police violence toward black communities.
While he said some people might feel “antsy” from some of the protesters’ actions, like driving on the grass and sidewalk, he said civil disobedience is needed to create change in policing policy.
“If it’s not making you uncomfortable, it’s not working,” he said.
The spread of the protests has taken many by surprise.
“I’ve never seen this many people come together for black people in my entire life,” said Valencia Allen, who was at her first march.
“Although I’m saddened by the reason we all have been moved to congregate here this morning, I think I speak for all the organizers when I say we feel uplifted, we feel empowered and we are shocked in the best of ways to see the number of people here with us today,” said Kayley McColley, who helped plan the event, working with police and elected officials.
MPD’s use of force during protests questioned
Even as protesters remain energized, Milwaukee officials are scrambling to deal with the fallout, including dangerous driving at night by a caravan of cars, and sporadic acts of looting and arson.
More than 100 businesses have been looted in the last week, according to U.S. Attorney Matthew Krueger.
Police have dispersed crowds using tear gas or rubber bullets. There were two separate early-morning incidents near the District 5 police station in Harambee.
And there were two standoffs Tuesday between law enforcement and demonstrators, one along a ramp to the Hoan Bridge and another several hours later just a few blocks from Fiserv Forum, at North 6th Street and West McKinley Avenue.
Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett criticized the use of rubber bullets to disperse crowds of peaceful protesters.
Milwaukee Police Chief Alfonso Morales said, “Law enforcement throughout our nation, law enforcement is being crucified. That’s what they want. That’s what these angry mobs are doing.”
But Morales has also briefly marched with protesters.
The Milwaukee Public Schools board of directors on Saturday also called on the Milwaukee Police Department to “publicly renounce the use of tear gas, rubber bullets, and other aggressive measures against peaceful protesters exercising their first amendment rights.”
The board said directors would be working with Superintendent Keith Posley and his administration to engage the district in talks with MPS students around the issues of race and racism.
Also Saturday, the 28-year-old man who was taken to the ground by Milwaukee police and arrested during a protest Tuesday spoke out.
“I’ve not generally been an activist, but I saw what happened to George Floyd and I wanted to get out and support my community and stand with them in solidarity. Black lives matter,” said Cameron Murdoch in a video.
“I never expected that I would be assaulted by the police with a knee on my neck,” he said. “I’m saddened that participating in a safe protest during the day made me the victim of police brutality.”
Murdoch was arrested Tuesday during the demonstration at 6th and McKinley. The Milwaukee Police Department has said it is reviewing officers’ use of force during the arrest.
Journal Sentinel reporters Jeff Rumage, Annysa Johnson, Ashley Luthern, Ben Steele, Natallie St. Onge and Keith Uhlig of USA TODAY-Wisconsin network contributed to this article.
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