I just watched some news coverage of the conviction of former alderman Michael McGee, Jr. I understand that he is charismatic and has a large following in the city of Milwaukee – not just in his district.
The reporter interviewed some people outside the courthouse. There were two women (both African-American) supporting McGee. They seemed emotionally tied to him and accused the prosecutor of concocting evidence and conspiring against him. One of the women said something about the city wanting to send a message to young men in her neighborhood that they shouldn’t try to succeed or they will be punished because of the color of their skin.
Then the reporter interviewed the prosecutor (Caucasian) and the woman (African-American) who ran against McGee in a recent election. They both emphasized that anyone who commits a crime needs to pay for it.
It seems like the people here see everything as race-motivated. I have no doubt that McGee earned his sentences. Just as I have no doubt that Bill Clinton (though I really liked what he did as President) should have ceased being President after the whole Monica Lewinsky thing. We all have our heroes but we should always understand that they are humans, too, and they make mistakes just like the rest of us. President Clinton made the Lewinsky mistake in office. Michael Phelps made his recent mistake with a bong and a camera. McGee made mistakes, too. Though Clinton and Phelps may not have been shamed out of their professions, they have paid for their mistakes (and will continue to do so). McGee should not be able to make mistakes and not pay for them. That would be a race-based double standard. Just as others pay for their mistakes everyday, McGee needs to do the same.
And the people who remain religiously loyal to him need to understand that they can be loyal without proclaiming McGee innocent. McGee has made mistakes that affect many people and the reputation of the city’s government. That kind of damage can be permanent. His mistakes must be atoned for. So I urge everyone to take into account Michael McGee and his crimes (or innocence) – not his race.