Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Harris Channels Eugene Kane

Whallah! often spoofs the ridiculous assertions that the local right wing media tries to ram down our collective throats. But sometimes, they do get things right.

James T. Harris does that in his post about the murder of Lodewikus "Vic" Milford:

Not your everyday Milwaukee murder story.

I am not playing the race card, but when I first read the story on TMJ’s website and in the Journal Sentinel, it was obvious that this wasn’t a black thing (primarily because I read it in the Journal and it led on the TMJ website -- both news sources that have stopped making murder in black Milwaukee a prominent story).

Why are some lives worth front page stories, while others don’t even warrant a mention?

South-side residents reacted last night. They are outraged! They should be. The mayor is angry. Miller Brewing is all over this story. Mr. Milford belonged to a powerful community.

And that’s a good thing.

Here’s my prediction:

The two killers will be caught, Walker’s Point will be cleaned up, and the family members of Milwaukee’s central city murder victims, if they are lucky, might find the names of their loved ones in News and Briefs.


1 comment:

  1. What surprises me is that McBride didn't post anything on this topic.

    She was the crime reporter for the journal before was she not?

    Especially since Eugene Kane wrote a very unbiased column on it:

    Perceptions of city's crime trump reality
    Posted: Jan. 30, 2008

    Eugene Kane

    It seems our new chief of police is getting a lesson about the perception of crime in Milwaukee.

    Many people believe violent crime is a big problem in this city, even if it's never happened to them personally. When violent crime does happen, it's perceived as more of a problem in some places than in others.

    For example, many of the homicides in Milwaukee happen in specific ZIP codes where gunfire is common. These are not the parts of town that Chief Edward Flynn has to worry about in terms of perceptions.

    Everybody already thinks those areas are dangerous; when someone gets killed there, few people are really all that surprised.

    But when a local business executive is killed after a night on the town in Walker's Point, many people perceive the problem as getting out of hand.

    At a community meeting on the south side recently, concerned Walker's Point residents met with Mayor Tom Barrett, Flynn and other city leaders to talk about their perceptions of increased crime in the area. The meeting had been scheduled before the death of Lodewikus "Vic" Milford, a Miller Brewing Co. executive who was shot during a holdup near S. 2nd and W. Walker streets last weekend after leaving a nearby bar with companions.

    According to reports, Milford, a South African native who was director of compensation and benefits for Miller, gave up his wallet but was shot by one of the robbers after getting into his car. Two suspects were arrested Wednesday.

    When a scary incident like that happens in a neighborhood known for its growing nightlife attractions - good restaurants, trendy bars and art galleries - it puts a damper on the preferred ambience of the location. Nobody goes out for a night on the town expecting a tragedy. At the very least, they expect to get to and from their cars safely.

    That usually happens in Walker's Point, but now the perception is changed.

    There was a time when Walker's Point was just another funky Milwaukee neighborhood, but in recent years the city has decided to steer investments to the area, which paid off handsomely in terms of economic development. The area known as the Historic Fifth Ward in Walker's Point has been particularly successful in drawing nighttime crowds looking for entertainment and culture.

    It's becoming the kind of fun place every major city ought to have.

    Milford's senseless death became a way for some to speculate about whether safety concerns could influence the decision on where to build a new corporate location for a combined Miller and Molson Coors. Seems to me, a random street crime shouldn't be a major factor in a multibillion-dollar decision.

    But then again, that's the danger with perceptions.

    What Flynn has learned is that the perception of crime in Walker's Point - or Avenues West, Historic Concordia, Brewers Hill, Washington Heights, or any number of Milwaukee neighborhoods with fanciful names that suggest a desire for serenity - is more important than the reality.

    Some readers have pointed out - again - that people don't get as upset about a death in the central city as they do about a murder in Walker's Point. I submit that until murders in Walker's Point happen with the same frequency as they do in the central city, the ratio of attention will never be fair.

    Nor will the perceptions.