‘We were relieved to get our kids out of Chicago, but …’
The University of Wisconsin’s Madison campus was never a monastery. Often enough, the carillon bells on top of Observatory Drive get drowned out on football Saturdays, Mifflin Street block parties, or various protests.
Today’s must-read Wisconsin State Journal report on a rash of loud parties in the shadow of Camp Randall Stadium, then, would be the journalistic equivalent of dog bites man except that something’s happening here and what it is, is becoming more clear. The Werkes inserts numerals into the newspaper’s report to count the ways: The campus parties …
were different from the usual college house party in the largely white neighborhood near UW-Madison: 1) big, 2) loud, 3) most of the attendees were black, 4) some were younger than college age and some older, 5) and instead of arriving by foot, many in the crowd showed up in vehicles. 6) The volume of the parties attracted attention, even in this neighborhood accustomed to beer-soaked bacchanals on football Saturdays.
“Large house parties are very common,” [Police Captain Jason] Freedman said. “The area is known for them.” But a party of several hundred people, with 7) public urination and vomiting, is less common, he said. … 8) “It is uncommon if there’s zero connection to anyone in the building.”
And Number 9 (Number Nine, Number Nine …) a drive-by shooting, that on August 14 when 17-year-old “fun-loving” non-college student Jovan Freeny got whacked the day after appearing in court on four felony charges of his own.
Not a one-off
A young woman who IS a UW student woke up three days later in the early hours of August 17 to gunshots ringing out in front of her apartment in the 400 block of Gilman Street. She captured the shooting in the accompanying photo.
Two days later, the student’s mother, Shannon Waterfield, met with city and university officials. According to the mother, Officer Kraig Kalka confirmed “an enormous increase in gang-related crime in downtown Madison and adjacent to the campus.” She has started petition to the mayor and council:
We are a group of concerned parents regarding our students’ safety attending the University of Wisconsin in light of the growing gang activity occurring on campus and around off campus housing. We demand the following action items be immediately executed:
- Close streets down,
- Increase police presence,
- Install more cameras/interface UW cameras and Madison cameras,
- Better communication between campus police and Madison police.
Send your concerns to:
Chancellor Rebecca Blank firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dean of Students Christina Olstad email@example.com
Mayoral chief of staff Mary Bottari firstname.lastname@example.org
Alder Mike Verveer email@example.com
She is also encouraging attendance at the next Madison Common Council 08-31-21.
“We were relieved to get our kids out of Chicago. … but my daughter woke me up with news of some people shooting very large guns. … The police officer confirmed you have gang activity and those gang members are coming from Chicago to Madison because of the opportunities.” — Shannon Waterfield.
Her testimony before the Common Council’s Executive Committee 08-24-21:
Blaska’s Bottom Line: The irony is that a young black man would be alive today if police remained on scene. Neighbors called police to monitor the party but the stretched-thin forces were diverted away to another call.