Graham Kilmer
Protest Day 16

Peaceful March Sees Signs of Solidarity

As march traverses city's west side and Wauwatosa it's met with support.

By - Jun 14th, 2020 07:51 am
George Floyd protest on June 13th, 2020. Photo by Graham Kilmer.

George Floyd protest on June 13th, 2020. Photo by Graham Kilmer.

As with many days over the past two weeks, there were multiple protests against the killing of George Floyd and police brutality Saturday in Milwaukee.

One of them, led by Khalil Coleman and Frank Nitty, started in Washington Park and marched west into the City of Wauwatosa. On the way into Wauwatosa, they marched directly into Washington Highlands, a wealthy neighborhood on the suburb’s border with Milwaukee.

At 3 p.m. protesters started to gather in Washington Park. For the next two hours, their numbers grew slowly. By the time the march began at 5 p.m., there appeared to be less than 100 people in the march. With multiple protests around the city occurring simultaneously, and more than two weeks into protesting, smaller crowds have become the norm.

Before the protest took off from the park, Frank Nitty addressed the crowd. He told them the movement to achieve justice for victims of police killings and racial equity was more important to him than his own life. He said he wanted the movement to be for all people. And he said he was going to work on his language, his “profanity,” to ensure all feel welcome in the movement.

Nitty also explained that he doesn’t want the protest movement to be about him. During the march Saturday he mostly hung back, letting others lead the march and chants. Nitty said he was working to be the best voice he can be for the people protesting against racism and police killings. “I try to be great for y’all, not myself,” he said.

After Nitty spoke, Coleman called Jose Acevedo into the center of the rally. Acevedo is the father of Joel Acevedo who was choked to death by off-duty Milwaukee Police Officer Michael Mattioli at a party at Mattioli’s house in April. Coleman said he wanted to honor Acevedo for the hard work of being a father, and the hard work of speaking out after his son’s killing. “You don’t get enough recognition,” Coleman said. Mattioli faces a homicide charge.

Acevedo broke down, put his head down and started crying. Coleman, Nitty and other organizers circled around Acevedo and hugged him. They were joined by Patrick and Sedan Smith, father and brother of Sylville Smith, who was shot by Milwaukee Police Officer Dominique Heaggan-Brown in 2016. After the group pulled away from Acevedo, the two fathers, Acevedeo and Smith embraced.

The march left Washington Park and headed west on W. Vliet Street, then up to W. Washington Boulevard and into Wauwatosa. State Rep. David Bowen led a chant along the way. All during the march, especially as it zig-zagged through residential streets in both cities, people came out of their homes, often with Black Lives Matter signs or fists raised in solidarity.

As the protests have become much smaller than the several thousand that would march at a time a week ago, it has become harder for the marchers to control traffic. A couple times Saturday, cars drove through, cutting marchers off, or they swerved around the caravan of cars trying to secure an intersection for the marchers.

But the unsupportive, or simply hurried, drivers are in the minority of interactions the protesters had Saturday while Urban Milwaukee was on the scene reporting. Most were positive, and as the march walked through Wauwatosa it grew in size.

Urban Milwaukee President Jeramey Jannene briefly covered a march with several hundred people that was going north from Morgan Park on the city’s South Side. A sit-in for change also took place near W. North Ave. and N. Vel R. Phillips Ave.

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More about the 2020 Racial Justice Protests

Read more about 2020 Racial Justice Protests here

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