In an interview with WDJT News, state Sen. Lena Tayor (D-Milwaukee) says the disorderly conduct ticket she received after a confrontation with a bank teller was racially motivated.
“The experience I had is one that many people of color have. Not just in Milwaukee but across the nation,” Taylor told WDJT.
Taylor also said the citation was politically motivated because she is a potential candidate for mayor. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, a possible Democratic candidate for governor, denied the charge in a statement to WDJT.
The incident with the bank teller occurred in April when Taylor asked the bank to verify that a rent check from one of her tenants had sufficient funds. When the teller refused, the senator allegedly became belligerent to the point where a police office feared Taylor may become violent towards the bank employee and stepped in between the two. Taylor also allegedly called the employee, who was African American, a “house n—-r.” Taylor denies it, saying that the term she used was “house negro.”
“You know you did a good job today of acting like a good house negro, and I know what it sounds like,” Taylor claimed she said in the interview.
Taylor claims that it’s the way that some African Americans talk to each other, and said it was a matter of “cultural competency” while comparing the disorderly conduct ticket to the recent arrest of an African American suspect who resisted arrest near 51st and Capitol.
“In that video, you hear people using all kinds of language,” Taylor said. “So I’m saying to you, that I respect the perspective of several different individuals. People use all kinds of terms. Very candidly? My father uses ‘ninja.’ Some people use ‘negro.’ Some people use ‘negra.’ Some people use the N-word. Whether you use it with an A at the end or ‘er’ at the end, when you get done in the context that I said it, right? One could argue, it’s all the same.”
Taylor, however, suggested she could have used different words to convey her frustration.
“In the end, the issue is whether or not the language I used is the best choice,” Taylor said. “I would argue, that in my parting shot, that I could have described the behavior to go along with what they’re saying even though policy says I can have this information, I could have said this is real frustrating, you’re deviating from policy.”
Taylor also told WDJT that she believes the term she used is not a racial slur. “I don’t believe that’s a racial slur,” Taylor said. “People of different races and same races may disagree with that. I don’t see that as a racial slur. People use different language all the time. I say that Ezekiel Gillespie is my kind of ‘negra.’ I say it all of the time.”
“I understand the perspective,” Taylor said. “I receive that. I receive that I can use this as a teachable moment.”
Despite Taylor’s claims, both the teller and the teller’s African American supervisor were offended by Taylor’s remark, believing she used the phrase “house n—er” instead.
“I’m sorry if he was offended, I was offended in the bank too, it doesn’t make it right,” Taylor told WDJT.
What got Taylor the disorderly conduct ticket, she told WDJT, was the same type of behavior that makes her an effective politician. “Asking questions, demanding accountability, some people call it disorderly conduct and I call it demanding respect,” Taylor said.
Taylor also disputed the police officer’s version of the events. When asked if she was yelling, Taylor would only say, “I’ll say this…I’ll say this, I don’t think the officer’s rendition of the facts are appropriate.”