"It's not just about Ferguson:" Milwaukeeans react to decision, say "we have to get active"

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- A grand jury decided not to indict Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown on Monday, November 24th -- a decision that's being felt across the country, including here in Milwaukee. While Ferguson, Missouri is a few hundred miles from Milwaukee, what's happened there has convinced some that it's time to speak up about what's happening here.

On Tuesday, November 25th, on the campus of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, students reacted to the grand jury's decision that there is no probable cause to indict Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson in the August 9th shooting death of Michael Brown.

"You're supposed to be leaders of the future, and you are ignorant to the facts that are in your computer, in your phone, and in your library,"

Milwaukee community activist Tory Lowe says he's disappointed with the grand jury's decision.

"We weren't shocked, but it's still disappointing. We wanna start finally seeing these officers go to trial and have a real trial, and get prosecuted the way that they prosecute every other citizen," Lowe said.

In August, shortly after Brown was shot and killed, Lowe led a group to Ferguson in a show of support. Since then, Lowe says the weather isn't all that has changed.

"It`s not just about Ferguson. There`s multiple communities that are suffering from injustice. Everybody across the country after that decision (Monday) night felt a change, and the change was -- we have to get active," Lowe said.

Lowe may have some company. Fred Royal, the president-elect of the NAACP's Milwaukee chapter says there are solid strategies to effecting change.

"Protest is good, but I'm more result-oriented. I like to see change being brought to the system. Making people uncomfortable at places they're normally comfortable, not being disruptive -- but just making their presence known to keep the issue alive," Royal said.

In terms of action, Royal says on a national level, he'd like the Department of Justice to examine police interactions with African-American males.

Lowe says his group's next course of action will involve working with elected officials to help create and pass legislation.

READ IT: NAACP Milwaukee statement on Ferguson grand jury decision & Dontre Hamilton

Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn, and Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke are also reacting to the grand jury decision and the violent protests we've seen out of Ferguson.

"There’s an array of thoughts that confront us as we watch the response and reaction to the verdict in Missouri as well as awaiting the finding of our District Attorney. I think it’s really important that one thing happen that few people seem to be pausing a breath to do -- which is actually look at what the grand jury evaluated. What is the evidence? Everybody is entitled to their own opinion about justice -- but everybody isn’t entitled to their own facts, and sadly this case became a bell weather case in which opinions and battle lines were drawn the day the incident occurred and opinions have hardly changed since then regardless of eyewitness testimony, physical evidence, and so on. That’s truly unfortunate that the politics of this issue and the, you know, anxiety and concern about police relations with at risk neighborhoods has obscured the details of this issue and caused people to reach conclusions consistent with their ideological point of view rather than the facts. Some of that is happening here and our challenge and certainly the District Attorney’s challenge is to present whatever facts he ultimately evaluates and rules on in a coherent, organized way that people will understand. If they disagree with the findings -- fine, but the facts should at least justify his conclusion whatever it is. In terms of preparations, well we try to engage in ongoing dialogues with the people that have been consistent protesters. There’s no center there. It’s tough to figure out who the leaders are. They seem to shift from week to week -- but so far we’ve had a series of peaceful protests that we’ve managed to protect both the protesters and life and property and we have every reason to expect that  Milwaukee will consider to behave that way," Chief Flynn said.

When asked if something like what happened in Ferguson could happen here in Milwaukee when a decision comes down in the Dontre Hamilton case, Chief Flynn said:

"The vast majority of people in our most disadvantaged neighborhoods are law abiding and their contact with the police is almost always as victims. When these events occur, they are again the most likely to have their property and person victimized. You know, very seldom do you see protesters become rioters. Rioters are overwhelmingly young with criminal records who take advantage of pain, frustration and disorder to steal -- and that’s what you saw (Monday) night. You didn’t see people who were carrying peaceful protest signs suddenly throw their sign down and break into a liquor store. You saw a bunch of young, opportunistic criminals steal and burn and take jobs out of the same communities that desperately need those jobs. I don’t have any reason to expect it will occur here. We will be prepared for it if need be -- but we also think that overwhelmingly the Milwaukee community has so far shown itself to be tolerant and law abiding and we are going to continue to work with those elements of the community to see that that stays the case," Chief Flynn said.

"This has not been America's finest hour. It just wasn't. Reaction is intolerable. There has to be a more socially acceptable way to deal with frustration and anger," Sheriff David Clarke said.

READ IT: Statement from Alderwoman Milele Coggs, Alderman Ashanti Hamilton and Alderman Russell Stamper II on Ferguson