City of Milwaukee
Press Release

Sewer contractor to appear before the Steering & Rules Committee to address racist symbols at work-site

The meeting will be at 9:30 a.m. in room 301-B at City Hall, 200 E. Wells St.

By - Dec 11th, 2017 04:54 pm
KKK and Confederate Flag Cooler. Photo by Sam Singleton-Freeman.

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

The owner of American Sewer Services is being called to appear before a special Steering & Rules Committee meeting on Thursday, December 14 to address a slew of problems, including a photo taken of a contractor’s cooler displaying the Confederate Flag and a Ku Klux Klan logo. The meeting will be at 9:30 a.m. in room 301-B at City Hall, 200 E. Wells St.

The communication file comes after members of the Milwaukee Common Council expressed disgust and outrage to two incidents with the same contractor in the last two weeks. Most recently, an employee of American Sewer Services was spotted with a cooler that had a Ku Klux Klan logo and a Confederate Flag sticker on it. Just last week, American Sewer Services made news for a separate incident where an employee of the Department of Public Works’ contractor was openly brandishing a handgun next to two coworkers open carrying holstered handguns, at a worksite near N. 19th St. and W. Meinecke Ave.

Alderwoman Milele A. Coggs said she is looking forward to the opportunity to discuss the incidents with American Sewer Services’ ownership at Thursday’s special meeting.

“It is sad and unfortunate that in 2017 we continue to see hurtful and painful symbols from our nation’s past brought into work spaces and places where our community members reside, but we must address it,” Alderwoman Coggs said. “It is my sincere hope that we can create a clear path forward that affirms a standard of respect for our community and one that leaves no room for offensive displays or messages. That standard will be clear and all companies we do business with will be required to abide by it at all times,” the Alderwoman said.

Alderman Russell W. Stamper, II says it’s time to take a deeper look into this company, “This company has allowed an atmosphere of disrespect and intolerance to exist and it is now being brought to the light. The brashness shown in the photo with the guns, and now this photo can be directly attributed to the environment this company has fostered with its employees, an environment where there is a total disregard for the community in which they serve.”

President Ashanti Hamilton head of the Milwaukee Common Council says, “There is an important opportunity, we have to recognize, that comes with shining a light on behaviors, norms, and blatant acts of hatred that persist in this city that we all share. This issue is bigger than a sticker or gesture; the attitudes behind them impact our city, and especially minorities, in very real ways. I want to be clear that such behaviors have no place in this city and will not be tolerated in any public workplace.”

Alderman Khalif J. Rainey, vice chair of the Zoning, Neighborhoods and Development Committee, said he looks forward to listening closely to the testimony from American Sewer Services when the file is heard.

“I am interested in finding out how the company recruits and hires its workers, and where they come from,” Alderman Rainey said. “Too often it is clear that many of these (DPW-contracted) work sites include no individuals of color. I would hope contractors could find a way to hire a more diverse staff so that the workers working on city projects reflect the population of our community.”

The communication file is sponsored by Alderwoman Milele A. Coggs and co-sponsored by Alderman Russell W. Stamper, II, President Ashanti Hamilton, and Khalif J. Rainey.

The Thursday meeting will be televised live on the City Channel (Channel 25 on Spectrum Cable and on AT&T U-Verse Channel 99) in the City of Milwaukee. It can also be viewed via streaming video on the city website at

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