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Alderman Rainey: New Red Cross ZIP code policy a 'slap in the face' to thousands in Milwaukee

Posted at 2:48 PM, Dec 29, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-29 15:48:39-05

Many are upset by a new Red Cross policy that keeps volunteers out of certain Milwaukee zip codes, including Alderman Khalif J. Rainey.

The American Red Cross is known for its strong set of volunteers, sending help to areas of catastrophe. Though volunteers are sent to war-torn countries, the Red Cross will no longer extend their on-site services to ten zip codes in Milwaukee.

In a news release Friday, Alderman Rainey said the "decision is a slap in the face to the good people who live in the affected ZIP codes, that they will no longer be extended the vital basic human care and courtesy of on-site Red Cross assistance."

Alderman Rainey says he would like to know the reasons for the decision to stop sending on-site help to fires in specific zip codes, adding he suspects the decision was racially motivated. 

"In my view the optics of it look like classic 'red lining' that disproportionately affects people of color (in other words racism)," Alderman Rainey said.

The Red Cross says the new process will allow fire victims to meet volunteers at a police station or other safe place instead.

"This is a way to get fire victims to a safe warm place," said Patty Flowers, Regional CEO of the American Red Cross of Wisconsin. "And continue to give them all the support they need."

The Milwaukee Fire Department will give victims a card to contact a Red Cross volunteer after a fire so they can start the process of getting help. Then, they can meet with a volunteer face-to-face at either a police station or the Red Cross headquarters. 

The zip codes where on-site services will be stopped are 53204, 53205, 53206, 53208, 53209, 53210, 53215, 53216, 53218 and 53233.