Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Redlining Backlash By Milwaukee Residents Forced Local Red Cross To Resume On-site Service

Local Milwaukee Red Cross rescinded their recent redlining policy in 10 Zip Codes that ended on-site service for City victims whose homes were destroyed by fires in both the Latino and Black communities.

By H. Nelson Goodson
Hispanic News Network U.S.A.

January 3, 2018

Milwaukee, WI - On Wednesday, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett announced that the American Red Cross Southeast Wisconsin Chapter (ARCSWC) decided to rescind what was considered by many local residents, community activists and public elected officials as redlining. Mayor Barrett in a press conference on Wednesday confirmed that Patty Flowers, the Regional CEO of the American Red Cross Southeast Wisconsin Chapter had rescinded the recent redlining policy and will resume on-site volunteer service to victims at the locations where their homes were destroyed by fires.
"In an effort to continue to serve people affected by home fires, we recently implemented new procedures in Milwaukee that we now understand were insensitive to the communities we serve.  We apologize for this mistake and will immediately return to the way we have responded to home fires in the past, consistent with American Red Cross practices and values nationwide...", Flowers posted on the ARCSWC Facebook (FB) account.
On December 22, 2017, the ARCSWC implemented a policy that ended on-site service to victims that had lost their homes due to a fire in the following Zip Codes, 53204, 53205, 53206, 53208, 53209, 53210, 53215, 53216, 53218 and 53233, according to Flowers. 
The 10 Zip Codes that were allegedly redlined by Flowers included both the Latino and Black communities, which caused a major backlash from local residents, activists and public elected officials accusing the ARCSWC of discrimination and lack of diversity training including lack of minority staff. 
One of the fire victims that was denied service by the ARCSWC in December was Latressa Turner after their residence was engulfed on fire and destroyed everything they owned on December 28 in a three alarm fire. Tory Lowe, a community activist posted a Facebook video on Saturday about Turner's plight and her allegation that the ARCSWC had denied her on-site service and a Red Cross volunteer never showed up to meet Turner at the 5th Milwaukee Police District Station as Flowers had said they would when called for a face-to-face meeting. Turner even went to the local Red Cross to apply for aid after her home was destroyed by fire and was denied service, according to Turner and her sister, Latoya Lewis testimony in a video posted by Lowe on FB.
Turner temporarily moved in with the Lewis family and had been getting help by members of the Black community and a GoFundme account has collected $1,110 so far for Turner and her 18-month-old child.
The Turner family will hold a press conference on Thursday at 5:00 p.m., 3508 W. Center Street to announce that they will file a class action lawsuit against the local Red Cross for denial of assistance.

Update: During the press conference by the Turner family, Tory Lowe, a community activist confirmed that the Turner family is suing the Red Cross for denying service to them after a three fire alarm destroyed their home. Lowe says, that the Red Cross gets federal funds and they allegedly violated the terms for the funding agreement that they shouldn't discriminate and violate the civil rights of families including the Turner family despite, the color of their skin. In this case, the Red Cross denied aid to the Turner family and so far, the Red Cross nor Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett have reached out to the Turner family, according to Lowe.
Flowers released the following statement after Lowe alleged that the Red Cross received federal funding.
"The American Red Cross has consistently responded to every family in need following recent house fires in the Milwaukee area, regardless of zip code, and we will continue to do so. We disagree with the assertions in this broadcast, as the family in your piece was directly provided with several hundred dollars of emergency financial assistance on December 28, 2017 after a meeting at the American Red Cross office at 2600 W. Wisconsin Avenue, Milwaukee, WI 53233.
Further, the American Red Cross is not a government agency, we do not receive federal assistance to support local responses to home fires, nor do we issue federal assistance," according to Flowers on FB.
Lowe in response says, Flowers is lying and that the Red Cross should release the sign-off documentation to show that the Turner family has received several hundred dollars as they claim, which the Turner family says they have not received any funds from the Red Cross or Flowers.

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