Outspoken 60-Year-Old Trump Fan Murdered, Friends Worry It Was Political Killing


Every city has its local soapbox characters — the people known for standing on street corners, espousing causes in a colorful way.

You may like or hate what they’re espousing, but if they’re not being objectively confrontational in an offensive way (looking at you, Black Hebrew Israelites), they add harmless local flavor.

If you’re a Milwaukee resident who spent some time around the Riverwest neighborhood, Bernell Trammell was one of those characters. He was known for his political and religious signage, as well as his willingness to engage with the man on the street.

The 60-year-old was an ardent backer of President Donald Trump and an outspoken believer in Rastafarianism. He was also, as the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported, a supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement and of Lena Taylor, a progressive who ran for Milwaukee mayor.

Trammell is now dead — shot in broad daylight on July 23. Now, many who knew him wonder if it was a killing motivated by his politics.

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“He’s just a community figure,” local resident Adebisi Agoro told WITI-TV. “I respected him just because he had a position. … He’s got his opinion on why he feels that way; and I’m not going to knock him.”

Agoro said he talked to Trammell at 10:30 a.m. on the day he was killed, and discussed politics and religion with the man often seen holding a “Blacks for Trump” sign. Two hours later, Trammell was shot and killed.

Police have released video of the suspect. The man was seen wearing a white and red baseball cap with a black mask and riding a bicycle. He was estimated to be in his 30s, according to WISN-TV.

Many conservative figures want to know whether Trammell was killed for his political beliefs.

“Because of Trammell’s well known political activism and the possibility that his murder could be politically motivated, I respectfully request that United States Attorney Matthew Krueger open an investigation,” Republican Party of Wisconsin state head Andrew Hitt said in a statement.

“No American should fear for their personal safety because of where they live or their political affiliation.”

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Do you think Bernell Trammell was murdered due to his politics?

Hitt, a former prosecutor, said he turned to the U.S. attorney after he couldn’t get answers from the Milwaukee Police Department.

“I know how these investigations work,” he told the New York Post. “The lack of information is concerning. We don’t know any of the circumstances of how he was murdered.”

Hitt added that a Republican Party outreach center had been opened near Trammell’s office, where the community fixture had run the publication eXpressions Journal for decades, to try and court African-American voters.

“This is personal,” Hitt said.

Wisconsin GOP Sen. Ron Johnson expressed similar concerns.

“Bernell Trammell was known to many in Milwaukee. My condolences to his family and friends. I hope they get answers and justice soon,” he tweeted.

One theory revolves around a man who reportedly had a dispute with Trammell a few weeks ago over Trammell’s “Trump 2020” sign.

Reggie Moore, director of Milwaukee’s Office of Violence Prevention, said he intervened in the situation.

Conservative figures aren’t the only ones wondering whether Trammell’s death had anything to do with his political beliefs.

“Friends and acquaintances were at a loss Thursday for who would shoot their friend, worrying it might have to do with his various stances,” WITI reported late last month.

Many on Twitter also expressed concern that Trammell was killed because of his politics:

As of July 26, the Milwaukee Police Department had no suspects in custody.

“The homicide that occurred on the 900 block of E. Wright is still under investigation and the motive is still under determination as MPD is still seeking a suspect,” they said.

Meanwhile, friends of Trammell’s gathered around his office to remember the man. A 21-year-old named Janette said that he helped support her after she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, talking with her about religion and philosophy, and encouraging her to speak out about her personal beliefs.

“Now that he’s not here, I have no choice but to use my voice,” she told the Journal Sentinel.

“He was selfless,” Wisdom Prometheus Grey said of Trammell.

Agoro, meanwhile, told the Post that Trammell “didn’t have internet, he didn’t have a phone, he didn’t have a dime to his name … but he got his message out.”

“He was a positive guy,” Agoro added to the Journal Sentinel. “I didn’t see him being mean or violent at all toward anybody while he was outside with his signs. He’d be on his bike. I’d see him pretty much daily.”

Plenty of people did. He was part of the local color, after all.

Now, he’s gone — and no one knows whether it was because of his politics or not.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture