A 17-year-old high school student who was spat on by a white attorney during a Black Lives Matter protest in Milwaukee is calling for “prompt and appropriate” justice in his case.
Eric Lucas, a junior at Shorewood High School and an organizer of the Saturday demonstration, spoke at a press conference about the incident on Monday.
“I continue to be mentally and physically shaken to be assaulted by an adult in my own community during a pandemic—it was traumatic,” Lucas said at the press conference. “Again and again I am viewed not as a child but as a color.”
“I am disappointed and feeling unloved by an individual I’ve done no harm to,” he added.
The teen was joined by Milwaukee County Superintendent Bryan Davis, who called on local prosecutors to levy hate crime charges against Stephanie Rapkin, the 64-year-old probate lawyer who spat on Lucas, reports Milwaukee’s local FOX station.
“It was truly appalling,” Superintendent Davis told reporters. “If we, as Milwaukee County are going to treat racism as the crisis that it is, we must make sure that law enforcement and our criminal justice system look at these types of instances through a racially motivated lens.”
The confrontation between Rapkin and protesters was recorded and posted on Facebook this weekend, prompting a massive outcry in the community. It began when Rapkin, who said she was running an errand, parked her car in the middle of the street, blocking the protest route.
The video shows Rapkin being followed and approached by multiple protesters, demanding she move her car so they can proceed with their march. After she continues to refuse, telling the demonstrators they are an inconvenience, a throng of protesters close in on her. Some, including Lucas, began chanting at her in an effort to compel her to move.
It was then that Rapkin, who hadn’t gotten physical with anyone else until that point, spit in Lucas’ face.
Rapkin was arrested not once, but twice following the incident. She was apprehended for the initial assault on Lucas on Saturday, and then again on Sunday for pushing a protester outside of her home (community members had written messages in chalk on the sidewalk outside of her house following her assault on Lucas, reports Fox 6 TV). Rapkin also allegedly kneed a responding officer in the groin, which tacked an additional charge of “resisting arrest” on her rap sheet.
She has been charged with battery and disorderly conduct against the protesters she attacked, as well as with battery of a law enforcement officer.
As the Washington Post reports, the State Bar of Wisconsin condemned Rapkin’s actions via Twitter on Sunday.
“We are disturbed and disgusted by the actions of an attorney who allegedly spat in the face of a protester during a demonstration on Saturday,” wrote the group’s leadership team. The State Bar said it had no authority to discipline lawyers, but pointed to the state’s Office of Lawyer Regulation as the body that can initiate the process to sanction an attorney. A complaint of professional misconduct has already been filed to the office, reports the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
“The behavior of lawyers and others directly contributes to the public’s confidence in our justice system,” the group added. “We unequivocally support equal justice and the right of all citizens to peacefully protest.”