A Wisconsin woman who disrupted a BLM march in the summer of 2020 and spat on a teen protester has opted for jail over probation.
In June 2020, just weeks after the death of George Floyd, BLM marches and riots continued across the country. But not everyone supported them. At one such march in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Stephanie Rapkin, a 67-year-old real estate and probate attorney from nearby Shorewood, attempted to block the BLM protesters' path with her car.
As a result, Rapkin was soon surrounded by angry marchers, some of whom menacingly chanted, "I'm black, and I'm proud" and strongly urged her to move the vehicle. One of the march organizers, Eric Lucas, who was then 17, appeared to move closer and closer to Rapkin, chanting about black pride and gesturing at her aggressively. In reprisal, Rapkin spat at Lucas such that her "saliva struck him in his face/mouth area and on the top of his shirt," the criminal complaint said.
That action also enraged the mob, which then quickly descended upon her. Some of the incident and the ensuing uproar were captured on video:
The following day, Rapkin was arrested at her home and charged with disorderly conduct as a hate crime. During the arrest, Rapkin reportedly told a police officer that she feared for her safety when the mob approached her, especially since the participants were not wearing masks and she was a cancer survivor. She also allegedly kneed the arresting officer in the groin at some point, resulting in a separate charge of assaulting a police officer. That case will go to a jury trial later this summer.
Adjudicating the spitting case has been a lengthy process. A year after it occurred, a judge dismissed the hate crime enhancement. At that time, Rapkin also refused a plea deal and insisted that her case be brought to trial. Last month, nearly three years after the incident, Rapkin was convicted of misdemeanor disorderly conduct.
On Tuesday, Milwaukee County Judge Laura Crivello attempted to spare Rapkin from jail by offering her a sentence of one year of probation and 100 hours of community service, but Rapkin quickly rejected it and perhaps hinted that the 100 hours of community service might be too onerous.
"Your Honor, I am outright refusing the probation," Rapkin said, adding that "it's not viable." "I’d rather go to jail right now and take care of it," she also stated.
Her attorney, Anthony Cotton, then reminded the judge that his client has a right to refuse the offer. "She does," Crivello concurred. "Then at this point in time, the 60 days that I imposed in stay will be starting today." Rapkin's online court records were quickly changed to note that the "Defendant is REJECTING probation."
Rapkin did not issue a statement explaining the reasons for her decision, and she prevented her family from speaking on her behalf. Cotton spoke with reporters after the hearing and suggested that he was not surprised by the outcome but did not otherwise provide any clarifying details. "That’s her decision, her right, to do as she sees fit," he said.
Cotton also stated elsewhere that Rapkin's reputation has been permanently sullied by accusations of racism and that her neighbors have completely disassociated themselves from her. She has even received death threats, he said. Rapkin seemed to confirm Cotton's characterization of her life now, telling Judge Crivello, "Your Honor, nobody wants me."
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