Milwaukee Police officer Kevin Zimmermann has a social media history full of extreme comments and COVID-19 falsehoods on public and private accounts.
Muskego-Norway School Board candidate Kevin Zimmermann has said that slavery and Black history are a “small part” of the nation’s history, that Black history should be mostly relegated to February, and that housing and food are privileges, not rights.
Those are just the stances Zimmermann, who is up for election Tuesday, has shared on his school board campaign Facebook page in the last month.
In a private account under the alias of “Kelvin Zims,” Zimmermann has spread the falsehood that COVID-19 is “just like the flu and common cold,” encouraged people to ignore local health orders, mockingly referred to Dr. Anthony Fauci as “your Supreme Lord Dr. Fauci,” said police might be scared to shoot Black people now “thanks to the media and BLM [Black Lives Matter],” defended Kenosha protest shooter Kyle Rittenhouse, and defended the police who killed Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky.
The comments made under the name “Kelvin Zims”—an alias Zimmermann said in an email he uses for safety concerns, as he is a Milwaukee Police officer in his professional life—were provided to UpNorthNews in the form of screenshots.
After UpNorthNews sent Zimmermann the screenshots for comment, he wrote in an email that he recalled all but one of the comments made under his alias; he did not specify which comment he did not recall. He said, “I believe that this story is really an attempt by political opponents to take what I’ve said out of context and gain political advantage.”
He declined an interview to explain further.
“I will say this: A lot of the screenshots you have are only a small portion of what was said and they are completely without context,” Zimmermann wrote. “Without context, they can be misconstrued or taken any way a person who reads them wants. I’m not going to cooperate further in a process that I’d expect to be unfair.”
The comments regarding Black history are still publicly viewable on Zimmermann’s campaign page.
Zimmermann might be familiar to news viewers in southeastern Wisconsin, and even some across the nation. That’s because he was featured in heartwarming stories in local and national media because of his actions in a 2019 traffic stop during which, instead of giving a mother a ticket, he let her off with a warning and bought her children car seats.
Now, he’s one of six candidates on the ballot in Tuesday’s election running for three open seats on the seven-member Muskego-Norway School Board in suburban Milwaukee. The school district includes Muskego in Waukesha County and part of the town of Norway in Racine County.
If elected, Zimmermann would vote on district-wide policies, goals, and spending that would impact the district’s roughly 4,900 students and $57 million budget.
On his campaign page on Facebook, Zimmermann is open about his far-right leaning, although school board races are officially nonpartisan. He is against requiring masks in schools. Asked by a potential voter if he supports schools beginning to teach the New York Times Magazine’s award-winning 1619 Project, which traces the influence of slavery throughout the nation’s history, Zimmermann replied by speaking of his desire to minimize Black history and the long-term effects of slavery in the United States.
“The 1619 project I would not support that because that puts slavery and black history in the center and main history to teach,” Zimmermann wrote. “You need to learn all history the same, yes that is part of American history but it’s such a small part of it. You need to give every history topic the same amount of time and can’t focus on 1 over the other more. Black history can be taught more during the month of February.”
In fact, slavery was present in the US 160 years before it became a country, was central to the development of the nation’s economy, and led to the Civil War. Its effects continue to be felt today, including in Wisconsin. Black history is frequently marginalized in academic settings, as curriculum broadly emphasizes white people’s contributions while ignoring or minimizing the accomplishments of Black people.
Zimmermann has also railed against how “canceled culture” has affected six Dr. Seuss books due to racist imagery (in fact, Seuss’ estate made the decision to discontinue the books). To show his support for these books, and for law enforcement, Zimmermann posted a meme on his campaign page that reads: “I’ll back the blue here or there. I’ll back the blue anywhere.” (The quote is a riff on “Green Eggs and Ham,” yet next to the text is an illustration of the Cat in the Hat—who was not in that book—adorned in “Thin Blue Line” imagery.)
While Zimmermann’s campaign page has not made many other references to policing, his comments as “Kelvin Zims” reveal he is a staunch defender of officers who commit violence as well as Rittenhouse, the Kenosha shooter.
“On [sic] real life, you can’t chase someone and smack someone with a skateboard which can and was used as a deadly weapon. Then run at them with a gun. Not to mention throw a motov [sic] cocktail at him,” Zimmermann wrote as Zims in defense of Rittenhouse, who shot three protesters in Kenosha during demonstrations over the police shooting of Jacob Blake last year.
Conspiracists have claimed Joseph Rosenbaum, a man whom Rittenhouse killed, threw a molotov cocktail at him. It was actually a plastic bag. Anthony Huber, the second man Rittenhouse killed, chased Rittenhouse after the Rosenbaum killing; Huber hit Rittenhouse with a skateboard before being fatally shot in the chest. The third man Rittenhouse shot, Gaige Grosskreutz, had a weapon drawn as he approached Rittenhouse, who had by that time killed two other people.
In other “Kelvin Zims” comments, he falsely claimed COVID-19 “is just like the flu and common cold” and urged people to ignore pandemic-related health orders. COVID-19 is both deadlier and more contagious than the flu, and the disease has killed more than 6,600 Wisconsinites and nearly 550,000 Americans in the last year.
“Just open your schools, you don’t have to listen to the Dane County order,” Zimmermann wrote. “They have no power to shut you down or do anything to you. Stand up for yourselves and your families.”
On his campaign page, Zimmermann claimed two weeks ago he has “a pretty good understanding of the science and public health policy” and falsely said COVID-19 doesn’t affect children and that they aren’t able to spread it. Children are less susceptible to the virus and spread it less easily, but they are not immune; an immunocompromised 14-year-old boy in Milwaukee, the city that Zimmermann polices, died of COVID-19 complications this week.