Outside parties may attempt to exploit last week’s killings at a Christmas parade in Wisconsin, the two U.S. senators who represent the state said in a rare joint statement on Nov. 27.
The exploitation would be for “political purposes,” Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) said. “As the U.S. Senators representing Wisconsin, one from each political party, we are asking anyone considering such action to cease and desist.”
A person driving a red SUV plowed into a parade in Waukesha on Nov. 21, killing six people and leaving some 61 others injured. Darrell Brooks of Milwaukee was arrested on suspicion of being the driver and has been charged with multiple homicide counts. He is being held on $5 million bond. The next hearing in the case isn’t scheduled until January 2022.
Social media accounts linked to Brooks shared anti-white messaging, including denigrating remarks about supporters of former President Donald Trump. In one post in 2020, Brooks said he wanted to knock white people out. In another, he indicated support for the Black Lives Matter movement.
The outside parties who may try to exploit the tragedy weren’t identified by Baldwin and Johnson.
The senators expressed confidence in local officials’ ability to conduct an investigation, and encouraged people to respect and support them.
“Their top priority is to begin the healing process within Waukesha by providing comfort and support to surviving family members of the deceased, and those injured both in body and spirit. They must also conduct a thorough investigation and afford the accused full due process. These will not be easy tasks, and will be made even more difficult if conducted within a politically charged atmosphere,” they said.
People who want to demonstrate their interest and concern in what happened should pray for the victims, their families, and the Waukesha community, Baldwin and Johnson said. They also noted that several groups have established the United for Waukesha Community Fund to accept donations and pass them to victims and their families.
Administrators of the fund said on Nov. 25 that they’re “still determining details of the support we will provide, but we know that families will need assistance with funeral costs, medical bills, and other related expenses.”
Donations have poured in from all 50 states and from 11 countries so far.
Scores of people are also donating to campaigns on GoFundMe and GiveSendGo. Donations totaled over $1.5 million on those sites as of Nov. 25.
Other officials also urged people to pray for those affected.
“Milwaukee shares its deepest condolences with our neighbors in Waukesha. Yesterday should have been a time of seasonal joy. Instead, we are all praying for the injured and mourning those who were killed,” Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, a Democrat, said in a Nov. 22 statement.