Revisiting the Ras: A humanizing portrait of Bernell Trammell painted by friends he made along the way.

Mourners have made the space in front of Expressions Journal into a memorial for Brenell Tremmell


Monday June 27th I stopped back over to where Ras Ali aka Bernell Trammell’s life was taken away from him last Thursday, July 23rd on a sunny afternoon in the River west neighborhood.

Much has happened since then. It seems as if as soon as the story released on The God Degree the world started to take hold of the question posed. Who shot the Ras? Did Ras Bernell’s support for Donald Trump lead to his untimely death?

Thus far we cannot say whether it was politically motivated.

What we can say, according to the Milwaukee Police Department’s Crime and Statistics Map is that as of May the homicide rate in Milwaukee has increased 96% compared to the rates of last year at that same time.

Being that the summer is getting hotter, stomaches are starting to ache and money is starting to run low in this post Coronavirus economy. There is sure to be a surge in violent crime especially in a place like Milwaukee one of the nation’s most segregated and oppressive places for African American people.

Life, love and loss is a tale I am all too familiar with. I lost my fourteen year old son a little over two years ago to a drowning accident in Peters Lake near East Troy, WI. That day, June 24th, 2018 was the saddest day of my life. As well it forever changed my life.

The morning of July, 23rd, 2020 before filming I mentioned the story of my son to Ras Bernell. He offered words of comfort on my behalf due to having to go through such a tragedy. I could sense the deep respect for humanity within his gesture.

Before leaving on the morning of July 23rd I told Ras Bernell that I’d return later that evening to show him the footage and get his final stamp of approval. That moment never happened. I am forever sincerely glad that we got the chance to meet.

I did not know Bernell Trammell personally. He was someone I had seen throughout the community. Someone that I had an affinity to ask a few questions about after seeing him being poked fun of on the internet. To me, he was another one of our unique Milwaukee characters. Myself, being a humanist, I had an urge to paint a humanizing portrait of a man who was being objectified and dehumanized.

Mourners have made the space in front of Expressions Journal into a memorial for Brenell Tremmell

The story of Bernell Trammell has taken off like wildfire. Some websites and forums have chosen to run with the political narrative between the Left and the Right, Liberal and Conservative, Black Lives matter versus the Patriots. Others have remained to adhere to the story at hand and wait for the facts. Articles have been directed back to me that have been circulating about the story that were taken from my original post as if they were indeed my own words. However, let me say that “THIS IS THE INTERNET AND I HAVE NO DIRECT RESPONSIBILITY WITH HOW OTHERS PUT SPINS ON ARTICLES.” I write the world as I see. Responsibly and unfiltered. We should all be educated enough by now to discern click bait from true journalism. Since last Thursday I have been referred to as a journalist. I should know, right?

Mari, a mother and Leukemia survivor who was a neighbor to Bernell Trammell over the past year recalls Bernell as being kind, loving and respectful towards her. She wanted to share a few words on the affect that Bernell Tremmell’s words of wisdom had on her life. Here she is in her own words.

Last Thursday, after the story went live I was contacted by Pia McDonald, a former co worker and friend of 26 years to Bernell Trammell. I had been requested to find Ras Bernell’s next of kin so that people could create a Gofundme to help pay for funeral arrangements. I hoped she could help lead me in the right direction. Thus far she had been the only person that had come forward who knew the Ras close and personal.

Pia, whom refers to Trammell as Ras Ali has been one of the many people that have been posted about watching the happenings in the neighborhood over the past few days near the memorial for Bernell Tremmell. She has also been unsuccessful in contacting any immediate family of the deceased. She mentioned to me that as days have passed action has increased around the memorial site. Politicians have come to offer kind words of compassion towards his life. Legislators have made demands for justice over his unjust murder. Community activists have organized vigils and people all over the world are talking about his last statements.

Pia took a few moments to speak on some of the developments that have been going on at the memorial of Bernell Tremmell. Rife with pain and frustrations here are her words.

It seems as if the life of Bernell Trammell aka Ras Ali has begun to take on new meaning within the discussion of expressing ones personal freedoms in America. Within that discussion we also peel back the layers exposing the complex dichotomy of the minds of Black men in America.

As the librarian would say when I was a child. You cannot judge a book solely based upon its cover.

A painting placed outside of the memorial.


Author: Armstrong Ransome

I break bread, ribs and hundred dollar bills.

13 thoughts

  1. “Vengeance is mine, I will repay,” thus says the Lord. Romans 12:19
    Take comfort in those words. Do not feel sorry for Ras, he is with the Lord. Feel sorry for the man who did this evil deed. His punishment will be worse than anything we could devise or imagine.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Don’t forget that one of the sinners on the cross next to Christ received redemption before he died. We are supposed to pray for our enemies bless and curse not.


      1. Mark, you have misunderstood me – I meant pray for this man, he needs it. God bless you. It is God’s job to punish and set right – not ours. That was my meaning.


      2. Mark, after accusing you of misunderstanding me, it seems I have misunderstood you. Yes you are correct Brother, we are not to judge or curse. But remember that the ‘curse’ I have quoted were not my words, they were our Lords. It is the curse placed upon all men who do wrong (original sin). God was the original curse, Remember the old testament and what he told his chosen people in the desert – I will be a blessing or a curse to you. You decide, the choice is yours. Unfortunately we often choose the latter. But fear not, he will make right that which we get wrong.

        Does our loving God punish us? Absolutely. Thank God. Like any loving Father he does not spare his child from the rod! God bless you.


  2. Thank You Bernell for standing up for your beliefs! I believe as you did in many ways! I went to your Jamaica and saw myself the beauty and the struggle there! Spoke with the normal people and learned of the troubles there. I feel he knew what opportunities all have here in America compared to other places in this world. I hope that we all as Black, White, Asian, Native, and all races can wake up to this nonsense and realize that family, hard work, care and common decency are important! I feel that we all need to stand together and what is going on in this country right now is politically backed by bad actors. Anyone with any common sense can see it I feel! Props and great respect to Bernell! I’m sorry you lost your life due to some A-hole not agreeing with you!


  3. To be honest, I am best described as a privileged white evangelical. I am heart broken for Ras Ali. The only thing Bernell and I have in common is our love for Jesus Christ and His precious Word of love to the world. I believe this best describes the man: 2 Timothy 4:7 “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course. I have kept the faith. 8 Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness…” My brother, we will meet in Heaven.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s