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Wauwatosa alderman's comments on equity, Inclusion Committee drawing criticism

Posted at 10:09 PM, May 01, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-03 12:37:47-04

A Wauwatosa alderman is taking heat for comments he made during a Government Affairs Committee meeting on Tuesday. On the agenda for the meeting was discussion on adding an Equity and Inclusion Committee in the city.

The group, Tosa Together, formed 2 years ago and recently has aimed to add the committee. Lynne Woehrle of the group made a presentation to the alders on the committee citing the reasons the city should consider the committee. “We ask tonight that you consider our proposal to establish and Equity and Inclusion Commission as part of the city structure” Woehrle said.

After the presentation, Alderman Jason Kofroth of District 7 spoke to the group and said, “A couple weeks ago there was Jackie Robinson Day where every single one of the MLB players wore 42 on the back of their jerseys. … And right now, we’re all here missing the Bucks playoff game where we have a stadium of 17,000 fans that are all cheering for a team that is almost all African American. You had the NFL Draft last week, a celebration of a lot of minority players.”

Kofroth told TODAY’S TMJ4 by phone Wednesday that his comments were meant to signify how far racial equality has come. He told the group, “with those in place and the celebration of minorities that we see in the Milwaukee area and across the country. How does that fit into like the narrative that you’re showing that we don’t have the inclusion and that equity in our community?”

Woehrle said criticism of the alderman’s comments came immediately from those at the meeting.

“To be frank, to hear we have a basketball team that is mostly black, that’s all well and good man but is that enough, is that enough? I don’t think so, that’s all I’ve got to say.” Isiah Holmes said.

“Many of the things that I just heard you say to me also suggest that this is exactly why we need a commission” Woehrle said at Tuesday’s meeting.

Alderman Kofroth said in a statement Wednesday, "The question I asked the presenter was intended to celebrate the progress that has already been made in our community and find out how we can use that progress to move forward. I look forward to the continued discussion at our next meeting."

The next meeting of the Government Affairs Committee is scheduled for May 14.

You can watch the entire meeting by clicking here.