security described as confrontational because her phone had been stolen. I’d like to know more about the size of the knife that officers say she
showed, (for example, was it a pen knife) but I believe that she was angry and threatening because of what a phone symbolizes to young
Millennials and because most of these phones are incredibly expensive. I’ve seen the panic on young people’s faces when they can’t locate their
phones, their phones crack or when something else has gone wrong with this prized possession. I also hope that she was not serious about
hurting someone in a public venue over a missing phone. I really think that she had no idea that her careless words would cause the havoc in
her life that they did.
My dad called it “talking sand or selling woof tickets.” As well, it was called talking “smack,” “trash talking” and those were the polite ways to
describe when you were sounding tough, but you had no intentions of being tough. I don’t know what the new slang word Millennials use to mean
the same thing. I do know that security guards and police are not trying to be cross-cultural in understanding when an African American means
what they are saying or when they don’t mean it. Our young people need to be different in their words and attitudes, in order to stay alive. I am not
exaggerating one bit when I say that Genele Laird could have been seriously injured or even killed and nothing that happened earlier, including
the loss of a phone, was worth either of these things happening.
There was excessive force used in her arrest. Other police officers, more mature or from a different ethnicity, would have handled this entire
situation differently without it escalating. It is equally true that if she had been European-American (white), and did the same exact things and had
the exact same knife, we would never have seen her in a video being brutally treated. I’d like to thank the young man who had the courage to
record this arrest, even when uniformed personnel tried to stop him. His video went viral which is another aspect of how Millennials talk to each
other and the world. We need video-cams on police officers too. I don’t see the point in an investigation of the incident by the Dane County Sheriff’
s Department with the expectation of law enforcement fairly evaluating law enforcement. These kinds of confrontations with police are not new in
the experiences of African Americans. Previous generations learned how to cope well and still live despite the police. We need Millennials to
behave with dignity, as well as survive interactions with police. We can’t lose their generation to ignorance or injustice.
Our young adults are called by many names: Millennials, Generation We or Generation
Yers. These are the ones born around the year 2000. Millennials grew up using electronic
gadgets and they are the generation that is mostly online and involved in a socially-
networked world. They are also the most ethnically-diverse generation and have a few
specific similarities across racial lines. One similarity is they are people whose phones
and other electronic devices are treated like appendages to their bodies; they hold them
that close and view them as extremely important. The Millennials are the first generation,
since the Silent Generation, expected to be economically less successful than their
I offer these comments about the Millennials as a background and context to the infamous
East Towne Mall beating of the 18-year-old African American, Genele Laird, by Madison
Police that occurred on June 21. Ms. Laird is a Millennial and the arrest, tasering and “beat-
down” by two male police officers were infamous actions indeed.
I don’t doubt that officers were called to the mall to deal with this young woman who mall