Jeramey Jannene
Eyes on Milwaukee

Vandal Places White Supremacy Stickers in Downtown Pedestrian Tunnel

High-rise construction site unwittingly becomes advertisement for white power.

By - Aug 3rd, 2019 11:14 am
Reject White Guilt sticker. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Reject White Guilt sticker. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

A well-traveled sidewalk on N. Broadway just steps from Milwaukee City Hall became a billboard for white supremacy after a vandal placed three stickers in the walkway sometime this week.

“Reject White Guilt” read two of the small stickers affixed to the wood structure designed to shelter pedestrians from the adjacent BMO Tower construction site. “Import the third world become the third world,” said another. The stickers come from an online, anonymously-run group known as the Hundred Handers that sends the stickers to its members.

This isn’t the first time hate speech has shown up in downtown Milwaukee. Last summer, just two blocks to the east in Cathedral Square Park, an East Town Association sign was defaced with messages and symbols of white nationalism.

Developer Irgens Partners took swift action to remove the stickers once alerted of their presence. “When I received your email message, I was very concerned and dismayed. I immediately went over to the job site and looked through the tunnel and found three stickers on the back of signs facing the street that said ‘Reject White Guilt.’ I personally removed them,” said firm CEO Mark Irgens in an email to Urban Milwaukee. “I feel badly that this happened and that people feel a need to display this sort of insecurity by employing divisive tactics.”

The signs, located outside of the secured construction perimeter, bare no indication of having come from employees of project general contractor J.H. Findorff & Son, Inc. or any of its subcontractors. “The general contractor for the project, Findorff is a class act when it comes to workforce participation,” said Irgens.

Irgens and Findorff, through African-American-owned Prism Technical Group, have engaged in a voluntary effort to hire minorities and city residents. A similar program was used when Irgens developed the 833 East office tower. “[Prism] reached out to the minority contracting community for both projects to make sure everyone knows they will have a fair shot for participating in our projects. We also have tried to make sure there is labor participation form the City of Milwaukee and Milwaukee County,” said Irgens.

The efforts partially mirror what the city requires for projects receiving subsidies. Projects receiving $1 million or more in city funds, which neither Irgens project did, are required to have 40 percent of the work hours performed by unemployed or underemployed city residents and 25 percent of the contracts by value go to disadvantaged firms.

Irgens, Findorff and future anchor tenant BMO Harris Bank celebrated the 25-story tower reaching its peak height in late June. The tower is scheduled to open to the bank in December.

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