Monday, Aug. 31, 2009

About The Violence at the Milwaukee Urban Music Awards

By Evan Rytlewski
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There's a faction of bloggers, columnists and radio hosts who seem to relish every instance of violence in Milwaukee, cherishing the opportunity to cite them as proof of the inherent moral bankruptcy of the inner city, the need for concealed carry, the dangers of rap music and the failure of the city as a whole. This faction is one of the things I hate most about Milwaukee; violence is bad enough without hearing commentators who don't live anywhere near the inner city gloat about it.

Whenever possible, I try to refute the sky-is-falling spin that talking heads put on unexceptional acts of violence, arguing that, for instance, one unfortunate shooting near the otherwise peaceful Locust Street Festival doesn't make the event inherently dangerous, or repeating like a broken record that violent crime in Milwaukee is actually on the wane. But even I'm having a hard time putting a positive spin on the chaos at this weekend's Milwaukee Urban Music Awards, where two people were shot. The event was to be a tribute to anti-violence activist Jeannetta Robinson, and that irony will be too much for some commentators to resist. Expect the smug civics lessons in how concealed carry/a different governor/lower taxes would have prevented this violence to commence... now.

In the meantime, all I can do is concede how dispiriting these shootings were. A well-intentioned, niche event that most of the city had never heard of has now become the symbol of the inner city music scene's reputation for uncontrollable violence. There probably won't be another Milwaukee Urban Music Awards show next year.

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