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Major Victory In The Struggle Against Police Crimes In Milwaukee

Above Photo: Maria Hamilton, mother of Dontre Hamilton, speaks at a press conference ahead of the key FPC vote on the new MPD policy on release of footage. Fight Back! News/staff.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin – On April 20, after two years of fighting by the Milwaukee Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression and victimized families, a new policy that guarantees the public release of police camera footage after critical incidents was passed by the Fire and Police Commission (FPC). This policy requires the Milwaukee Police Department to release video footage of any critical incidents to the victim’s next of kin within 48 hours and to the public within 15 days.

While the Milwaukee Alliance and their allies were demanding the 48-hour public release of footage and 24-hour release of the names of police officers involved, it is a massive step forward towards police transparency and accountability in Milwaukee.

This demand first came about through the work in the case of Roberto Zielinski, who was killed on Memorial Day of 2021. The footage in that case was released far too long after the incident and was heavily redacted. Similar feedback was expressed by other families who have lost loved ones to the Milwaukee Police Department (MPD). Since then, the Milwaukee Alliance has worked tirelessly for more transparency and accountability.

It’s important to note that this policy was not passed out of the good will of the FPC or the MPD. The FPC, as well as police departments in the surrounding Milwaukee area, have primarily served as roadblocks to change. The FPC wasted months of time going over the same tired and unsubstantiated points being brought up by the police departments.

“There is no reason for this policy to have taken two years to pass. There have been numerous police killings since the beginning of this campaign, with families being left in the dark,” said Alan Chavoya, the outreach chair of the Milwaukee Alliance. “There is no reason why dozens of people should have to show up to countless FPC meetings to get a common sense policy passed. Justice delayed is justice denied. This process has eroded the public’s faith in the FPC.”

There is great importance in understanding that this policy was passed because of the pressure put on the FPC by organizations like the Milwaukee Alliance and the families they worked with. This is a community victory and not the FPC’s. As a direct result of endless canvassing, meetings, rallies and call-ins, the Milwaukee Alliance secured a victory for victims of police crimes. Impacted families will no longer have to suffer for months or years without closure as to what happened to their loved ones.

Victories like these help continue to build momentum in the broader fight for community control of the police in Milwaukee. This is a people’s victory worth celebrating because it shows that organizing is the path forward in the struggle against police crimes.

The next day, on April 21, the Milwaukee Police Association (MPA) filed a bogus lawsuit against the city in direct response to the new policy. The struggle goes on and the Milwaukee Alliance will continue to lead the way.

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