Thursday, October 22nd

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MADISON - No matter the outcome of this fall’s election, the state Senate will be a very different place next year.

Seven of the state’s 32 senators have either recently stepped down or announced they will not seek re-election. And the Senate’s Republican majority leader, Scott Fitzgerald of Juneau, is making a bid for Congress that, if successful, will create yet another opening in the Legislature's upper chamber.

Republicans are expected to keep their hold on the Senate this year. But while the partisan makeup may remain the same, many of the personalities will be new.

Republicans control the Senate 18-13, with two vacancies. Democrats hope to narrow that gap but have few opportunities to play offense.

Just a few races are considered competitive, but others are being watched because the incumbents have recently stepped down or plan to retire.

Senate District 6

Democratic Sen. LaTonya Johnson of Milwaukee is facing a primary challenge from Michelle Bryant, a longtime aide to another Milwaukee Democrat, Sen.

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Milwaukee police Detective Martin Saavedra and fellow officers kneel with Shalayah Simon, 19, of Milwaukee at the Milwaukee Police Department District 1 Police Station after a peaceful protest march against the killing of George Floyd, an African American, by a white Minneapolis police officer.(Photo: Mike De Sisti / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

It was a simple gesture, but one that resonated with hundreds of cheering protesters in Milwaukee on Tuesday.      

Police officers kneeling alongside protesters.

For a moment, the tension between law enforcement and people protesting the senseless killing of George Floyd broke outside the Milwaukee Police Administration building.

The heartfelt moment came at the end of a half-hour of speeches as hundreds gathered peacefully after marching through the city. One officer, clad in riot gear, put his arm around a young woman holding a handmade "Black Lives Matter" sign; other officers gave thumbs-up to the crowd.

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Freedom Inc. isn't shy about pushing its radical rhetoric.     

The Madison-based nonprofit has advocated for the release of all African Americans from jail and the defunding of police departments. As for the current protests, the group's leaders say "all actions against racist state violence are justified." 

“Stop murdering black people, and your glass will be safe," Monica Adams, co-executive director for Freedom Inc., said while leading the third day of police protests in the state's capital on Monday.

"Thank all the youth freedom fighters who were in the streets fighting (Sunday) night and Saturday night," said Mahnker Dahnweih, community power-building coordinator for Freedom Inc. "Every action is a contribution to liberation.”

So where does a group like this get the money it needs to promote its agenda?

A lot of it comes from you. 

Records show that the state has awarded contracts and grants worth $3.6 million to Freedom Inc.

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The state Capitol's Forward statue, which is more than 100 years old, was doused in red paint Monday night.(Photo: Molly Beck, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

MADISON - Boiling rage in the wake of another black man's death by police continues to spill over in the state's capital where black and white residents live in separate worlds, divided by some of the widest disparities in the nation. 

The city's most popular business district looked like a war zone Tuesday morning following looting and destruction by a group of people who broke off from a mostly-peaceful protest to stomp out car windows, light Molotov cocktails, loot stores and beat two men with a crowbar.

Police left the crowd alone until about 1 a.m. when looting and concentrated violence began. Madison Police Chief Vic Wahl said one person fired a gun into the air during the mayhem. 

At that point, the officers used tear gas to break up the crowd.

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Michael Mattioli(Photo: Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office)

For the second time in two weeks, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett called Monday for the firing of police officer Michael Mattioli.

Mattioli faces a charge of first-degree reckless homicide in the death of 25-year-old Joel Acevedo.

Mattioli, off-duty at the time of the incident, is accused of putting Acevedo in a fatal "chokehold" during an April fight at his house. He is suspended from the police force but still receiving a paycheck.

“Whether the authority to fire Officer Mattioli lies with the Police Chief, who has the authority to fire officers under section 62.50 of the Wisconsin Statutes, or the Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission, which took over the case, one thing is clear: Officer Mattioli must be fired," Barrett said.

“At a time when our community and nation need to restore trust in police officers, it is a slap in the face to the residents of this city to be forced to continue to pay the salary of an officer charged with homicide," he said.

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Michael Mattioli(Photo: Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office)

For the second time in two weeks, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett called Monday for the firing of police officer Michael Mattioli.

Mattioli faces a charge of first-degree reckless homicide in the death of 25-year-old Joel Acevedo.

Mattioli, off-duty at the time of the incident, is accused of putting Acevedo in a fatal "chokehold" during an April fight at his house. He is suspended from the police force but still receiving a paycheck.

“Whether the authority to fire Officer Mattioli lies with the Police Chief, who has the authority to fire officers under section 62.50 of the Wisconsin Statutes, or the Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission, which took over the case, one thing is clear: Officer Mattioli must be fired," Barrett said.

“At a time when our community and nation need to restore trust in police officers, it is a slap in the face to the residents of this city to be forced to continue to pay the salary of an officer charged with homicide," he said.

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