Monday, February 22, 2010

Go Ahead, Make My Day!

Shaking hands with Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett is a little different than the usual grip and grin with a political candidate. He extends his right hand and rather than giving you a firm tight grip, you get a tentative almost passive grasp. It’s not by design, but rather by necessity.

If you haven’t followed the story of the Democratic candidate for Governor he was with his daughters, niece and sister outside State Fair Park last August when they heard a woman scream. The woman was being attacked by a 20-year-old Milwaukee man and Barrett tried to step in and help. Instead the man turned on him and beat him with a tire iron.

Barrett says when he woke up in the hospital he thought he’d broken the hand by hitting the man, which caused the hospital staff to chuckle. He learned later from one of his daughters that he’d swung at the man trying to protect himself and missed, but did land one blow before the man beat him down with the tire iron. He says one of his daughters called police and in a moment reminiscent of the character Elaine in Seinfeld she pushed the man and told him to get away.

Barrett says the man broke several of his teeth and he had to have staples put in his scalp. The teeth have since been replaced and he had surgery on his right hand. Wednesday there’s another surgery during which one of the fingers on his right hand will be re-broken so it can mend properly.

Now they are waiting to see what happens with his attacker who is going through the legal system. Apparently the man tried to cop an insanity plea, but no one bought it. Barrett says his attacker may reach a plea agreement, but if he doesn’t there would be a jury trial in May.

Barrett says for in his run for governor it would have been a better story if his attack had a “Clint Eastwood” ending, but instead he became just another victim of a violent crime. He jokes that the one thing he’s learned about the incident is he’s no longer 25-years-old in his “fighting ability” or “healing ability.”

Barrett related most of this story to me after we taped an interview that aired today on KFIZ. He had a lot to say about the incident. Most crime victims have stories too if people will just take the time to listen to them. It’s another form of healing. Bones mend, teeth can be replaced, but some scars go deeper.