Controversial 2018 comments by Kenosha Sheriff David Beth have sparked renewed outrage as the city deals with the aftermath of an officer shooting a Black man in the back on Sunday, and a white teenager who’s been charged with shooting three and killing two people during subsequent protests.
Following the arrest of five people for shoplifting close to $5,000 of merchandise from Prime Outlets in Pleasant Prairie and a subsequent high-speed chase that ended in a collision with another vehicle, Beth delivered a strong message about the perpetrators, three Black men and two Black women from Milwaukee.
« I’m to the point where I think society has to come to a threshold where there are some people that aren’t worth saving, » Beth said. « We need to build warehouses to put these people into it and lock them away for the rest of their lives. These five people could care less about that 16-year-old who just got his driver’s license yesterday. They drove through a red light, they stole thousands of dollars worth of clothing, and they don’t care.
« Let’s put them in jail. Let’s stop them from, truly, at least some of these males, going out and getting 10 other women pregnant and having small children. Let’s put them away. At some point, we have to stop being politically correct. I don’t care what race, I don’t care how old they are. If there’s a threshold that they cross. These people have to be warehoused, no recreational time in jails. We put them away for the rest of their lives so the rest of us can be better. »
Beth received backlash for the comments in 2018 and wrote an apology, then met with the Kenosha NAACP president Veronica King, who said it was a good start, but many leaders felt it didn’t go far enough. From the Kenosha News:
“Victims are very important to him. And as a public safety person, he should be concerned,” King said. “That still doesn’t give you a reason to deviate and let your emotions take control.”
King said Beth’s comments about “warehousing” individuals for life were inappropriate, saying treatment and rehabilitation should be the goals.
King said she asked Beth if his response would have been the same if the suspects were white.
“He said, ‘Absolutely,’” she said. “He didn’t care what race they were and that race wasn’t a factor in his statement.”
Alderman Anthony Kennedy called it the best « sorry/not sorry » he’d ever heard. “You need to do better and you can do better,” Kennedy told the Kenosha News at the time. “I’m not willing to give him a pass.”
JR Radcliffe can be reached at (262) 361-9141 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @JRRadcliffe.
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