By Gretchen Schuldt
When all of this is over, the injustice in Milwaukee will continue, sanctioned by the city's elected officials.
Milwaukee will use its police, its judges, and its prosecutors to extract money from protesters and others who come to the attention of police for one reason or another and are erroneously or maliciously ticketed.
The city spends millions of dollars each year for its law enforcement machinery to extract money from residents, but the people who get ticketed are on their own.
Everyone who can't afford to hire a private lawyer is expected to somehow magically know the ins and outs of the local laws they are accused of violating so they can effectively defend themselves or make a case for a lower forfeiture.
They also are expected to somehow – intuition, maybe? Really good guesswork? – understand the complex rules of Municipal Court so they can represent themselves with some degree of competency.
Is there really anyone who doesn't see how absurd this is? And is there anyone who doesn't understand that this, like so many justice system injustices, disproportionately affects African Americans?
The city did have a program last year that provided a defense lawyer for Municipal Court defendants who could not afford to hire their own.
It was a good, smart program that worked. The city shut it down.
That decision belonged to Mayor Barrett and the Common Council. And it will cost those wrongly ticketed during the protests – Lord knows we've seen enough video to know it happened – money they may not have, especially during this pandemic.
It's a travesty, and it happens every day.
It's how city leaders designed it.
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