I decided not to go on the Cease Fire walk that was scheduled, because I wanted to get some information about the organization of the main event. William (Bill) joined the walk, but said that he would not be at the turn in event because he had family obligations and could not make it.
It was quite a change from just five years ago when Milwaukee Police Chief Flynn made his infamous threat against people who exercised their rights:
“my message to my troops is if you see anybody carrying a gun on the streets of Milwaukee, we’ll put them on the ground, take the gun away and then decide whether you have a right to carry it.”Bill was congratulated on his Glock by a member of the crowd just before they left, but I was busy. I see it all the time, so it wasn't until later that the contrast from 2009 and Chief Flynn hit me.
When I was covering the private sales at the turn in, one of the private buyers knew Bill and mentioned that the walk had gone well. I talked to Bill on the phone at the end of the day. He said that people reacted positively during the walk, and thanked him for coming. He did not get any negative comments and shared some concerns about police behavior with a woman who was also on the walk. He reminded people that the police have no legal duty to protect individual citizens.
No one made any fuss about him exercising his rights, though a few complimented him on his willingness to do so. The walk took place in one of the higher crime neighborhoods in Milwaukee, and was populated by people who were concerned about violent crime. I have often thought that these neighborhoods would benefit from the approach that Chief Craig of Detroit, or Sheriff Clark of Milwaukee County, suggest. The Police Chief and Sheriff know that officers can seldom get to a crime scene fast enough to stop the crime from happening. They appreciate the positive effects of an armed population in deterring crime.
A citizen openly exercised his Second Amendment rights in urban Milwaukee, surrounded by people who are concerned about violent crime. The response was: thank you for coming; it is good to exercise your rights; and a worry that police can get carried away with procedure instead of exercising common sense.
Milwaukee has come a long way in five short years.
©2014 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.
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