A white Milwaukee man has pleaded not guilty to a criminal charge filed against him after a video captured him with his hand around the neck of a black man with special needs in a case that many are calling an example of racial profiling .
Robert Walczykowski, 62, recently pleaded not guilty to a disorderly conduct charge after a video went viral of him wrapping his hand around the neck of 24-year-old Trevon Burks, who is black and has a disability.
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While police previously withheld Walczykowski’s name, the Milwaukee Police Department has since confirmed the charges against him, UKTN News reported.
In the video, which has now been viewed more than 10,000 times, Walczykowski puts his hand on Burks’ neck and accuses him of stealing a neighbor’s bicycle.
Walczykowski later accuses a friend of Burks of stealing the neighbor’s bike. Both claims Walczykowski made are unfounded.
As shown in the video, the person recording Walczykowski repeatedly asks him to take his hand off Burks’ neck.
“I’m recording you – let go of the man’s neck,” says the person holding the cell phone’s camera.
“Go ahead, record,” Walczykowski says on the recording.
Walczykowski eventually removes his hand and later gives the person the middle finger up.
Walczykowski also straddled the rear wheel of Burks’ bike, preventing Burks from leaving.
In the end, Burks managed to get away from Walczykowski. He left the area before police arrived.
Many expressed outrage at the video, including Burks’ family, who called the meeting with Walczykowski an example of “hatred.”
“My son has done nothing wrong and if I were to get justice, I wish he would pay for what he did,” Burks’ mother, Tracey, said at a news conference last week.
“That was very wrong of him to do that and he could have handled my son in a different way. He didn’t have to strangle my son. It was hateful what he did.”
Many who confronted before Walczykowski was charged wondered if Burks might have been more hurt — or worse — if the encounter had taken place at a time when cell phones weren’t ubiquitous.
Some even referred to the shameful history of lynchings in the US. According to records kept by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, at least 4,800 black people were lynched by racists in the US from 1882 to 1968.
False or unsubstantiated accusations of wrongdoing have sometimes fueled those killings.