Gun Violence in America · Guns

11 Children Shot Dead in Milwaukee, One in Her Grandpa’s Lap

AP Photo/Milwaukee Police Department

Daily Beast

Months after a grieving mother had pleaded with violent thugs to stop shooting, 5-year-old Laylah Peterson was killed by a random bullet. How a city’s kids are caught in the crossfire.

The smaller the coffin, the more monstrous [than] the murder.

And along with the kid-sized casket at the funeral on Wednesday for 5-year-old Laylah Petersen, there will be a harrowing statistic:

Eleven children under the age of 13 have been shot in the city of Milwaukee so far this year.

And little Laylah had not even been out in the street.

She had been in the presumed safety of her home, sitting on her grandfather’s lap and watching television on Thursday evening, when a dozen shots were fired at the house. A random slug that seems to have been intended for nobody in particular tore through a wall and struck the child in the head.

“We believe that this bullet read ‘to whom it may concern,’” Capt. Aaron Raap, head of the investigations division of the Milwaukee Police, later said. “And that concerns all of us.”

The same day as that shooting, Raap had sent out a memo praising his cops for their role in the successful prosecution of a young man for the killing of 10-year-old Sierra Guyton, who had been struck in the head by a stray round in a school playground in May.

Sierra had clung to life for seven weeks before finally succumbing to her wound. The child’s mother, LaTayna Anderson, offered a prayer for other parents.

“I just pray that everyone just keep their children safe,” Anderson said. “I would not bear this on no one.”

The mother also made a plea to the violent ones who wreak such havoc.

“I just ask, can you all please put down the guns? Just put the guns down.”

A week after Sierra’s funeral, a man who had just completed a prison sentence for attempting to shoot a cop got into a gunfight with somebody while driving a van occupied by seven children. A 10-year-old boy and an 11-year-old girl were wounded.

“We have remorseless, reckless criminals in possession of high-quality firearms shooting at each other, and they don’t care who they hit,” Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn said.

The police noted that they had recovered in excess of 1,000 firearms so far this year, nearly as many as New York, which has more than 12 times the population. Milwaukee’s murder rate is four times that of New York.

But that was still one-fourth the murder rate of the country’s most dangerous city, New Orleans. And Laylah’s family never imagined that she was in the slightest danger as she sat happily on her grandfather’s lap at 6 p.m. on Thursday.

In the stunned aftermath, her grieving relatives spoke of her as “our wild child,” incandescently alive, irrepressibly cheerful and delightfully quirky. One aunt said Laylah loved “sparkles, glitter, anything girly,” adding, “Any time you watch the movie Frozen, her favorite song was ‘Let it Go’ and she would sing it all the time.” Another aunt recalled something Laylah had said to her when they went trick-or-treating on Halloween just a few days before.

“I love you more than science!”

And thanks to science, the family found some consolation in donating Laylah’s heart to give another child a chance at life. The police chief, Flynn, announced that he was going to keep Laylah’s picture in his uniform shirt pocket next to his own heart.

“She’s going to be in our hearts, like her little baby heart is going to be in somebody else’s,” Flynn told reporters on Saturday. “She will always be remembered, not just by her family, but by that family that she has given her little heart to.”

Laylah and her older sister, Destiny, attended the school affiliated with Our Lady of Good Hope Roman Catholic Church. A teacher there put a teddy bear on Destiny’s empty desk, and those who so desired left notes of condolence.

The pastor, Father Mike Barrett, recalled seeing Laylah at the weekly Wednesday morning service, where the children are given a chance to offer a prayer of their own composing. Barrett had chanced to place a paternal hand on her head as he passed the microphone to the student next to her.

“Excited, willing, open to learning,” Barrett later said of Laylah. “She always had a smile on her face. She was a joy to be around.”

The very next day, Laylah’s head was pierced by that “to whom it may concern” bullet. This week’s prayer service was on Tuesday, with a picture of Laylah set up at the front. Barrett arrived wondering what he could possibly say.

The children then proceeded to say it all for him, taking turns with the microphone as they would at the regular weekly prayer service, but now speaking of their grief over the loss of their friend. They eulogized Laylah as only children could.

“Sand castle builder…tag player,” Barrett recalled.

The funeral was set for Wednesday, exactly a week after that moment when Barrett last saw her. He figured on letting the gospel, specifically Matthew 1:28, guide his homily.

“Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

At the conclusion of the funeral Mass, the kid-sized coffin from the monstrous murder was then to be taken from the church to Holy Cross Cemetery. And there, the sand castle builder and tag player who loved her aunt more than science would be buried.


Wisconsin Recall Election


Scott Walker Tom Barrett Recall Results

Apparently 30 million dollars can buy an election.

The Huffington Post

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) was projected the winner of Tuesday night’s gubernatorial primary by NBC News.

The latest polls showed Walker leading Democratic challenger Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett going into the contest.

The AP relays background on the race:

The first-term Republican was back on the ballot just a year and a half after his election. Enraged Democrats and labor activists gathered more than 900,000 signatures to force the vote after they failed to stop Walker and his GOP allies in the state Legislature from stripping most public employees of their collective bargaining rights.The recall is a rematch of the 2010 election in which Walker beat Democratic Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett by nearly 6 points.

Continue reading here…

Wisconsin Recall Efforts · Wisconsin Recall Election

Wisconsin Voters Report Receiving Robocalls Telling Them Not To Vote

Scott Walker’s campaign must be running scared…

Think Progress

From Eau Claire to Beloit, voters across Wisconsin are relaying stories via Twitter, Facebook and online message boards about anonymous “robocalls” from allies of Scott Walker, telling them–incorrectly–that if they signed petitions to recall Governor Walker, their vote in today’s crucial election has been recorded.

An NBC reporter tweeted that a family friend was one recipient of the call:

Dad just emailed, a WI friend of his got the ‘If you signed the petition you don’t have to vote tomorrow’ robocall 

Tom Barrett, the mayor of Milwaukee and the Democratic nominee to unseat Governor Scott Walker, told MSNBC host Ed Schultz last night that his campaign began receiving complaints yesterday that voters had been contacted with the misinformation. This morning, Salon reported on the robocalls too, and included comments from Carol Gibbons, a Wisconsin resident who got the call herself. And a local CBS affiliate is even reporting that the caller sounds eerily similar to Tom Barrett, suggesting the group behind the call may have hired a Barrett impersonator.

So far no recording of the call has surfaced, but the reports from voters was enough to prompt the Barrett campaign to make calls of its own, warning voters not to listen to the first call. For its part, the Walker campaign denied any involvement in or knowledge of the robocall or who was behind it.

Election day antics were a near certainty in Wisconsin. In the last week, reports of other campaign antics surfaced, including an attempt by Walker supporters to disable the Barrett campaign’s phone lines by flooding their call centers with spam phone calls.

Gov. Scott Walker · Uncategorized

Scott Walker Using $100 Million Of Taxpayer Money To Fight Off Recall?

Scott Walker on February 18, 2011Stating it clearly and concisely, Scott Walker is a crook, period.


As Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker heads into the final stretch in his effort to hang onto his job, he is finding it increasingly more difficult to make his case honestly— or without using huge sums of taxpayer money to sway voters.

While life would likely have been easier for the Governor had collective bargaining remained the key issue of the campaign, now that the election has become largely about Walker’s record on job creation, the polls reveal that things are becoming increasingly more difficult for Scott Walker. Wisconsin currently competes with Nevada for the dubious title of worst job creator in the nation, resulting in the polls tightening into a dead heat,  leaving the Governor with reason to be worried.

In the effort to move withering public opinion in his direction, the Governor has embarked on a campaign strategy highly dependent upon finding someone else to blame for the poor economic performance of his state. In the process, Walker has resorted to committing a huge amount of taxpayer money to aid in his political survival, while mounting a campaign that—to anyone paying attention—only serves to highlight his own failures over the past decade.

Not surprisingly, the ‘someone’ chosen by Walker to play the role of scapegoat is his recall election opponent, Mayor Tom Barrett of city of Milwaukee—a city with some of the most difficult poverty problems in the nation.

The effort kicked off ten days ago when, after fifteen months in the Governor’s chair where Walker has consistently cried poverty in the state budget as the rational for his many controversial moves, the Governor miraculously came up with $100 million to fund economic development in Milwaukee’s poorest areas—money Walker claims will come from the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Board.

Even more surprising is the astonishing resemblance between the Walker scheme and the series of measures put forth by President Obama as the Governor’s proposal involves reoccupying foreclosed and vacant properties while making loans and venture capital money available to small businesses and industrial developers.

Of course, Scott Walker had been a vocal opponent of such proposals when uttered by the President.

Continue reading here…

Rick Santorum · Voter Supression

Santorum To ThinkProgress: ‘The Only Reason You Don’t Have A Voter ID Is You Want To Continue To Perpetrate Fraud’

Think Progress

To Rick Santorum, the more than 23 million  American voters who don’t have a government-issued photo ID aren’t potential victims of disenfranchisement. The presidential hopeful uses a different name: perpetrators of fraud.

ThinkProgress spoke with the Republican presidential hopeful about voter ID laws — which require that citizens present a certain form of photo identification or they are barred from voting — during a campaign stop in Milwaukee last weekend. Santorum said that he supports such laws because, as he states it, “the only reason you don’t have a voter ID is you want to continue to perpetrate fraud.” He went on to dismiss the notion that anyone might not have access to a voter ID, saying that “it’s not a problem.”

KEYES: Voter ID has been a big issue here in Wisconsin. I know Lindsey Graham has proposed a national voter ID law. Is that something you would sign as president?

SANTORUM: I think that’s a state issue. I support voter ID. In my opinion, the only reason you don’t have a voter ID is you want to continue to perpetrate fraud.

KEYES: What about folks who don’t have access to a voter ID though?

SANTORUM: As you know, in every state they allow free access to free voter ID, so it’s not a problem.

Watch it:

Santorum’s claim falls somewhere in the murky world between audacity and lunacy. More thanone in ten Americans lack a government-issued photo ID. These people are not committing voter fraud — indeed, voter fraud is rarer than getting struck by lightning — they are potentially having their right to vote stripped away. Santorum appears to have confused the disenfranchisees with the disenfranchisers.

Continue reading here…

U.S. Politics

Sunday Morning Blog Round Up

Cheney Gets Heart Transplant

Santorum Takes Louisiana

Supreme Court, free men and bullies

Health Care Reform on the Line Next Week

The Parallels Between Clinton and Obama

Obama confronts nuke threat on N. Korea front line

At CIA, a convert to Islam leads the terrorism hunt

Penn State Police Had Warnings About Sandusky in 1998

Afghan Shootings Done in 2 Trips From Base, Officials Find

Wingnut Conspiracy Theory: Trayvon Photo Was Lightened to Make Him Look ‘Innocent’

Michelle Obama · Russ Feingold

First lady raises cash, enthusiasm


Michelle Obama’s East Wing staff suggested she would take it slow once she started campaigning, emphasizing her nonpolitical “mom-in-chief” role and her noncontroversial fight against childhood obesity.

Instead, the first lady made her political presence felt immediately Wednesday, delivering an impassioned and overtly religious pitch for Democrats to defend her husband’s legacy in the midterm elections.

“We got this man in office; we’re all proud of Barack and his accomplishments,” Obama told syndicated radio host Tom Joyner before embarking on a week of campaign events that will take her to Wisconsin, Illinois, Colorado, Washington and California on behalf of endangered Democrats.

“Everybody I know in our communities [is] praying for us,” she said, adopting a religious theme seldom used by her husband — and landing her on top of The Drudge Report, a space she occupied with some regularity two years ago.

“Every day we feel that, and let me just tell your listeners, it means the world to us to know that there are prayer circles out there and people who want to keep the spirits clean around us,” she added.

It remains to be seen if the first lady can offer endangered candidates any real boost with less than three weeks to go — or if her help is too late. But she is raising spirits — as well as cash — with her presence.

After a fundraiser here for Sen. Russ Feingold, Obama traveled to a Chicago fundraiser for Illinois Senate hopeful Alexi Giannoulias, for which tickets started at $750. When her husband hosted his own cocktail reception for the candidate in Chicago, tickets started at $500.       Continue reading…

GOP Political Attacks · POTUS · POTUS Criticism

Obama: ‘They Talk About Me Like A Dog’

Going off script, the POTUS told his audience what he really thinks…

TPM Live Wire

The President departed from his prepared remarks in Milwaukee to address how he’s treated by the powerful interests in DC: “They talk about me like a dog. That’s not in my prepared remarks … but it’s true.”

President Obama spoke today before a union rally in Milwaukee to announce a $50 billion initiative to improve American infrastructure, and used the opportunity to paint his administration as a fighter of special interests like Wall Street bankers.

He said rebuilding the American middle class on stronger foundations, like better education, has required “taking on some powerful interests.”

“Some powerful interests who had been dominating the agenda in Washington for a very long time. And they’re not always happy with me. They talk about me like a dog,” he said, to cheers. “That’s not in my prepared remarks, but it’s true.”

“That’s why we passed financial reform. To provide new accountability and tough oversight of Wall Street,” he went on, naming Wall Street and credit card companies as two of the “powerful interests” in Washington.