Jeramey Jannene
Eyes on Milwaukee

City Contractor’s Worker Displays KKK Sign

Contractor whose workers showed their guns now connected to cooler with white supremacist signs.

By - Dec 8th, 2017 04:47 pm
KKK and Confederate Flag Cooler. Photo by Sam Singleton-Freeman.

KKK and Confederate Flag Cooler. Photo by Sam Singleton-Freeman.

Another stunning photo of a city contractor job site has emerged. This time it’s not guns being brandished, but a cooler with a Confederate Flag and Ku Klux Klan stickers affixed to it, both associated with white supremacy. The job site belongs to American Sewer Service according to Alderman Robert Bauman, who represents the area where the photo was taken. American Sewer is the same contractor whose employees were photographed carrying firearms last week. Those employees were disciplined, with the one brandishing the firearm reportedly terminated. The city is considering legislation to ban contractors from carrying firearms, similar to regulations for city employees.

“Obviously this contractor has a problem recruiting employees who are comfortable working in Milwaukee,” Bauman told Urban Milwaukee in an interview. He expects a discussion by council members about bringing the contract work in-house so the city could focus on hiring city residents to do it. According to the 2010 US Census, 40 percent of city residents are of African-American descent, while 17.3 percent are Latino or Hispanic and 3.5 percent are Asian, while 37.5 percent are white. It is a majority-minority city, making it a curious place to display white supremacist messages.

The photo was posted to Facebook by Sam Singleton-Freeman as part of a series of images of the job site at N. 25th St. and W. Wells St. Bauman, who lives just blocks from the job site, said “I saw the work going on this morning, but obviously not the cooler.”

Singleton-Freeman’s post says “I ran into this about 2pm today at 25th and Wells. I asked one of the workers who they work for, he said they work for a contractor but he wouldn’t tell me the name of the company. One of the workers had on a union hoodie, too. Black contractors and workers should be getting these jobs, not Klan supporters.”

Department of Public Works‘ spokesperson Sandy Rusch Walton says the city is still investigating the incident at this time, but did confirm that the cooler is believed to belong to an employee of American Sewer Services.

American Service Service had not returned a request for comment at the time of publication.

If you think stories like this are important, become a member of Urban Milwaukee and help support real independent journalism. Plus you get some cool added benefits, all detailed here.

25 thoughts on “Eyes on Milwaukee: City Contractor’s Worker Displays KKK Sign”

  1. Ndub says:

    “Black contractors, and workers should be getting these jobs”- sounds like you make judgments based on skin color, which makes you as close minded as the clown with the cooler!- How about: “next time….hire open minded, hard working individuals for the job”- Dangerous thinking, I know-

  2. Tony says:

    I’m surprised such weak minded people actually read Urban Milwaukee let alone make comments like James above. I’d comment more but talking to the weak minded is a lesson in futility and I’m tired of it. Clueless is as clueless does.

  3. Joseph Vavrecan says:

    Freedom of speech. It’s a bitch. But our rights. Just like the million man march and affirmative action. Oh no by no means, that’s not racist .

  4. Terry says:

    Republicans have seriously gone off the deep end with their enabling and/or outright support for pedophiles, the Confederacy, Nazis and Trump’s crypto-fascist authoritarianism.

  5. Chris says:

    How about this… Who cares what that employee supports? If he had a vote for Hillary or Trump sticker on his cooler would this be in the news? Should he have brought the cooler to work? Probably not. But this is a FREE country. Ask yourself this question. What if the sticker said ” black lives matter”? I personally think everyone is in a up roar over nothing. Tell the employee to leave his toys at home and at the same time tell them to leave all politics and religion and beliefs at home. If we ALL did that I mean all as in whites blacks Hispanics Asian etc this country would be a better place.

  6. Kenneth says:

    Fascist thugs! Leave our city! Your brazen white supremacist affront will be squashed. It ain’t about free speech! Don’t come back!

  7. Chris says:

    I am NOT in your city. This dumb news has made it to my city (Cincinnati Ohio). My opinion was far from racist. I dont support the KKK or black lives matter. Both are as racist as the other. The point was why should we care about a pointless dumb sticker on a lunch box? Who cares what that employees belief’s are? Just simply tell him to leave it at home. No city employee or contractor should “advertise” politics, religion, or belief’s on the job period. This just my point. The post above is blaming Trump and the republicans in a post where that doesnt even make since😉

  8. pplr says:

    As reasoned as you are from Ohio there are a couple of issues here.

    Logical Issues:

    1. The worker has a right to his beliefs, but they are still noteworthy especially if this same person will be working in black or hispanic neighborhoods.

    2. Since there are poor neighborhoods in the city that often have unemployment issues there is some sense to asking why contract out when the people who could do the work are already here.

    Historical Issues:

    1. The KKK and Black Live Matter are not the same. Even if you don’t like Black Lives Matter, it as an organization, was not historically involved in a number of lynchings, murders, and a campaign of terrorism. The KKK was. The KKK may be less important and less violent now but there is a large historical difference here.

    2. The Metro-Milwaukee Area has had enough problems with racism over the years and it doesn’t need to a few more. From redlining (limiting black people to living in certain neighborhoods decades ago) to racism being a major factor in the growth of lily-white suburbs around the city itself there are racist legacies that are being slowly overcome but with a legacy that is still visible today.

  9. As we work towards a better society, we need to focus on hiring the right candidates who are hardworking, professionals who does not focus on carrying weapons or displaying their cultural and/or religious belief. is there racism, sure it is and there will always be racism but this does not have to be displayed in the workforce. The guns on the job is ridiculous, so is the KKK signage. When will we grow up and act like adults?

  10. Chris says:

    Jerome I agree, well said. Pplr I agree with most of your comments but not all.
    Im sure if someone from that particular community was qualified and “went” to apply for that job surely would of been considered regardless of skin color.
    About this racial” legacy ” as you call it. The legacy is still viable because we as society still talk about it because it is brought up everyday in a NEWS story like this one that gets white activist and black activist fired up.
    If you youtube video of black lives matter rallies you will see lynchings. I know they are not the same the kkk been around for decades and has had time to earn a bad rap which B.L.M has not achieved as of yet but surely working toward it.
    Every city has those exact neighborhoods. People that live in poverty stricken neighborhoods choose to live in that neighborhood. Maybe because they chose not to go fill out that application for the city job?
    Or just simply that they choose to because its cheaper to live there.
    Im sure before this thread is deleted or some other moron some where in the country thinks its a good idea to bring your lunch box with racey decals on it. Trump will get the blame because he hasnt taken down enough statues yet or hasnt taken down enough state flags or has erased enough history to make this whole race issue go away.

  11. Troll says:

    I’m still waiting for those racist statues on 9th and Wisconsin to come down but Alderman Bob Bauman seems to approve.

  12. Huckleberry says:

    How is what someone thinks any of your business? Go build or fix something contributing to society rather than watching and judging people that are.
    If you are not producing anything other than an empty opinion,then you are what is wrong with what society in America has become.
    If you cannot handle the magnitude of freedom that we have in the United States ,We have no intention as a nation to make anyone stay that feels uncomfortable in our free to fornicate openly society.Including and not limited to you.God Bless

  13. David says:

    It absolutely blows my mind out of my head that people like Chris would conflate the KKK with Black Lives Matter.

    Black Lives Matter is a recently formed, loosely organized social justice organization that first spawned out of a slogan intended to remind America that black lives have worth in the face of spate of high profile police killings of unarmed black men. Since then it has expanded to a movement to promote black issues in general. Some of it’s tactics have been controversial because they do things like disrupt traffic, and a few of their leaders haven’t been careful with who they associate with or promote at times, but the movement has never been pro violence or oppression. People of all races make up BLM.

    The KKK is an explicit hate group that for more than a century has dedicated itself to promoting the superiority of white Angelo-Saxon protestants over all other races, especially blacks. They have always used the tactics of terrorism and have killed thousands of minorities over their history, including recently.

    Support for Black Lives Matter is OK. Support for the KKK is NOT. Period.

  14. Huckleberry says:

    All lives matter. Period

  15. Huckleberry says:

    The Islamic State and Black lives matter are 2 in the same.Genociding each another, whilst blaming another.

  16. Troll says:

    Can we now ask feminists to stop hero worshipping Margret Sanger and her persuasion techniques in justifying abortion ? Which was the illumination of colored people.

  17. Chris says:

    You have missed the entire point.
    Who cares what people promote and believe in. BLM movement is also in that category. The city employee made a bad decision to bring in his cooler. The poor guy will most likely lose his job now that this has made national news. Lets use black panthers now. He wouldnt be losing his job if that decal was on his lunch box nor would it have made the news. If you support either organization that is your right and your opinion. My opinion is like Jerome said in his post. No city employee should wear or promote any political party or any organization while at his or her place of employment. David this is our problem I respect your opinion on the BLM but it is also my opinion after what i have seen they are no better than the kkk themselves. Only difference is they dont hide behind the hoods. The media reports every bit of this nonsense because it strikes interest and with that brings ratings. Good day Milwaukee!!! Love your city.

  18. Lucy Cooper says:

    Jerome – Thx for your well reasoned comment, To those of you who just want to yell at each other about BLM, KKK, Margaret Sanger or whatever, go home or elsewhere. There are real and complicated MILWAUKEE issues at play here.

    First off, we are not talking about city employees at all. The guns at work/photo and the lunchbox with confederate flag and KKK stickers involved sub contracted workers from the same non Milwaukee PRIVATE company – American Sewer services. They are a big company and evidently got the work because they put in a good bid and have a track record of decent performance. The Milwaukee Dept. of Public Works director said they had been contracted for over 30 years on these projects. City goes to contract workers on big projects presumably because it doesn’t have money to keep employees for on again off again projects and pay big UC when they are not needed. Also, with a subcontractor, the firm owner is responsible for HR issues and the city doesn’t get embroiled with work comp claims or discipline or enroll the workers in then pension system . That’s why I suspect Alderman Bauman’s idea to bring all the work in house won’t fly when someone runs the numbers. I’d like to be wrong on that, but suspect I’m not. Whatever brickbats people throw at Milwaukee, it’s a fiscally well run city.

    But what the hell are the American Sewer Services workers up to? They are getting good money to come here and do street projects. They have to know that stupid gun waving photo – which THEY posted – would get back to city officials and infuriate the common council. Ditto the stickers prominently displayed on the lunch box. Wonder when those stickers went on – maybe after their stupid buddies were fired by American Sewer Services?

    Furthermore, if someone invites you to their house to do work for GOOD money, it really is crass and disrespectful to insult the people who live in the house, whatever you may think of them. I’m now convinced the guys posting photos or displaying their racist stickers were looking for a fight – and now they have one. If they get fired, good riddance. There’s an old saying – “you bought the ticket, you paid then price, so enjoy the ride”.

    I have some sympathy for workers – city or contracted -who are genuinely afraid, especially those who are sent more or less alone into neighborhoods and asked to do jobs calculated to piss off the people there (think building inspector or child protective services worker) or put valuable equipment in places where there is a great temptation to steal it. Personally, I don’t care if they carry guns – just don’t flaunt it on FACEBOOK – and try not to get caught by bragging about it to an /alderman who won’t keep his mouth shut.

    I live in Milwaukee, have lived here since 1972, and don’t plan to run away.

  19. Timothy A Hanson says:

    Go ahead hire local inner city workers who are currently in need of a job. Then when their own sewers fail and city goes broke paying work comp claims and the entire infrastructure fails watch those same so called racist workers come back to fix that shit. If you haven’t worked in front of section 8 complex in the inner city as a white man then jeep your thoughts to your self and simply thank the next worker carrying a lunch box like this one for doing a job u can’t do while taking the BS talk of the locals. All black lives matter shit brought this response to light so start at the source and lay off the responce

  20. Chris says:

    While our city is being ripped apart in so many different ways:
    *Stolen Cars *Breaking to people’s cars at Amtrak Station *Sex Trafficing *Heroin (drugs) *Poverty **boarded houses, *Guns and killing innocent people . , …etc we are leaving all of that a side and wasting time on a Sticker. Really? I think our city officials don’t care about people’s lives, or have no idea how to fix any problems

  21. Becky says:

    My thinking is that the confederate flag is free speech, as much as I despise it. However, the KKK is a hate group and not protected, so they can and should pursue discipline (whether it be demotion, suspension, or firing) against the worker for that.

  22. Lucy Cooper says:

    “Who are these guys? “. – from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”

    I am beginning to smell a rat – pun intended. Looks to me like the subcontracted American Sewer Service workers are deliberately provoking a confrontation with their own employer and with the liberal city council, putting the mayor and the Dept. of Public Works in the middle.

    Looks like they want to ratchet up the racial divide. Also looks like they want to provoke a firing or contract cancellation that could lead to a successful lawsuit against their company and/or the City.

    Questions: Are these workers union or non union? Are they in a dispute with the boss? How long have they been with the company and do any of them have criminal records?

    Also, just who is Mr. Flom of the Young Workers ?
    Is this an actual union or an advocacy group of some sort. I’d just like to know who the TV is giving all this face time.

    Finally, what if any position have the traditional building trades unions takes on the sticker issue – or the gun issue?

    There may in fact be 1st amendment issues that could be used against city or employer if these guys are fired over lunch bix stickers. That is why DPW chief was so measured in his comments.

    I hope there is further investigation by some journalist with a cool head and some decent union connections to find out what is behind this flaunting of racism. Looking like a set-up to me.


  23. tm says: are racist as much as Detroit Cinnic etc. Stupid is as Stupid does

  24. tm says:

    Russian trolls at it again. Traitors

  25. Sam says:

    the comment section is extra trolly today

Leave a Reply

You must be an Urban Milwaukee member to leave a comment. Membership, which includes a host of perks, including an ad-free website, tickets to marquee events like Summerfest, the Wisconsin State Fair and the Florentine Opera, a better photo browser and access to members-only, behind-the-scenes tours, starts at $9/month. Learn more.

Join now and cancel anytime.

If you are an existing member, sign-in to leave a comment.

Have questions? Need to report an error? Contact Us