#KenoshaStrong: My First Time Seeing the Destruction

Why Kenosha, Why Not Kenosha


My wife and I finally decided to take a trip into the uptown/downtown area to see the results of the civil unrest we all experienced a while back. I gotta say, it was every bit as bad as advertised. It really messes with your mind that this happened here. Our city..Ka-nowhere…which really is and always has been somewhere. Our list of people and accomplishments and events is vast and our history needs to make no excuses. This is an amazing 100K person city. But boy did it take a kick to the guts not long ago. Seeing the carnage first-hand was pretty surreal. This is the stuff you see on the news; it doesn’t happen in your front yard.

The uptown area was crazy. The Danish Brotherhood; wiped out. How many weddings or anniversaries or gatherings has Kenosha seen in the upstairs of that place? The business on the corner, gone, the camera shop, gone. Then down 60th to the wreckage on 60th and 13th..crazy. And then to a burned-out car lot and a short drive down the road where people lost their lives. It really gives one a sick feeling to try and grasp man’s inhumanity to man when it comes knocking at your door. And ground zero; the courthouse, fence still up, and the park across the street where people gathered. If anyone’s M.O. was making a local feel uncomfortable in a place he has never felt uncomfortable…mission accomplished.

So there are two questions. Why Kenosha? And why not Kenosha? The “why” is kinda easy. The “why” is because virtually no one is immune. There is a system in need of serious change. There are sometimes bad people protected by that very system and sometimes good people are roasted for bringing those misdeeds to light. Systemic poverty is a term rarely used but a giant factor in the events of the recent past in Kenosha and nationally. And most importantly, no one has lifted a finger to do anything about it in 30-40 years. The politicians make the promises…break the promises and blame the cops. The cops are extremely light on accepting any blame or taking much serious the giant need for self-accountability. And the lawbreakers just don’t give a shit.

The “why not” is a little tougher question. The easy answer would be to say that no one really wants this to find some middle ground. I have always personally believed that the government of Kenosha has never even been close to as good as the people that they represent. Seeing our Kenosha elected officials on the national stage makes one realize that these people really do belong at the St Therese Festival…and nowhere else. This ain’t an emergency meeting to decide who cuts the grass at Petzke Park or if an elected official is “entitled”. When you “play politics” and then real politics is burning your city down, it might be best to remain at the kiddie table for Thanksgiving.

But it is not all gloom and doom. There was a band in the parking lot behind 58 Below. The artwork was as inspiring as it was beautiful and folks in both uptown and downtown looked to be enjoying one another’s company, eating up some good food, drinking a beverage, and trying to put life back into perspective. But the “there” is most definitely still there. Perhaps the community could come together to find a way to move forward with the fix. I know we will move forward with the heal. But the best way to ensure you need to heal less is to address that which causes the wound in the first place. I for one believe our local government to be woefully ill-equipped to be attempting that process. It must come from the people. Toss out some names!!