Contrast in attitudes

There is a lesson in contrasts between two sets of brothers in Milwaukee County. On the one hand there are the Popp brothers, Jason and Kurtis, who will stand up and take responsibility for one of the most expensive fires to ever burn in Southeastern Wisconsin – the July 5 fire at the Patrick Cudahy meatpacking plant. On the other hand, there are the Peters brothers – Anthony and his unnamed, cowardly brother.

It was announced Monday by Jason Popp’s attorney and the district attorney’s officer that he entered a plea of no contest to second-degree recklessly endangering safety and admitted to giving his brother a military flare that landed on the Patrick Cudahy plant and sparked the blaze.

The charge carries a punishment of up to 10 years in prison. However, prosecutors plan to recommend that the prison term be stayed and that he serve three years probation with some time spent at the Milwaukee County Jail. Popp will also be required to perform some form of community service.

Popp’s attorney, Steven C. McGaver, said his client was extremely remorseful and never could have imagined that his admittedly stupid action could have resulted in millions of dollars worth of damage and a devastating impact to the community.

Kurtis Popp is facing the same second degree recklessly endangering safety charge and is expected to enter a no contest plea on Sept. 1. The terms of his plea agreement have yet to be finalized, according to his attorney, Julius Kim.

In stark contrast stand the Peters brothers. We all remember Anthony Peters, who with a few swings of a tire iron, he turned Milwaukee’s mild-mannered Mayor Tom Barrett into a living hero who will stand up to street thugs. And we remember his brother, who along with other relatives, offered excuses for his brother’ troubles. Instead of being a man and admitting to his criminal actions, Peters and his family have blamed the mayor, his ex-girlfriend, his child’s grandmother, and the world in general for Anthony’s troubles.

“Somebody got involved that really shouldn’t have gotten involved,” the brother said. “If he was able to see his kid it wouldn’t have gone this far.”

He also describes his 20-year-old brother as “a boy,” who doesn’t know how to control his emotions and handle stressful situations.

Peter’s mother actually believes her son is only being prosecuted because the victim of her son’s criminal actions was the mayor. If this had been you, me, or some other helpful citizen, she believes the cops wouldn’t have even bothered looking for him, much less prosecuting Anthony for felony first-degree reckless injury, theft, disorderly conduct, and bail jumping.

It has only been two weeks since Peters allegedly beat Mayor Barrett within an inch of his life on a West Allis street, and many have said it is understandable that a brother and mother would stand by their relative when in trouble. However, this attitude of blaming the victim and everyone else within hearing distance for your problems stretches the envelope of common sense and civil society.

The Popp brother’s father called it right when shortly after their arrest he said they had behaved “like idiots.” He didn’t blame anyone for his son’s troubles and he didn’t offer excuses for their behavior.

The Popp brothers are admitting their role in this tragic fire, which will cost the Patrick Cudahy Company upwards of $50 million. They are taking their punishment like men, even if it is not what everyone affected by their actions feels is fair.

Hopefully, their example will rub off on Anthony Peters as he moves forward in the justice system and he will become the man he needs to be, not the boy his brother excuses him for being.


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