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.
A mass shooting took place on Feb. 26 in Milwaukee, Wis., at the Molson Coors brewery when a worker, Anthony Ferrill, opened fire and killed five co-workers before killing himself. This tragic development was hardly a blip on the radar screen of mass media when all of a sudden it just disappeared.
In a banner day for police reform, the city of Milwaukee has entered into a settlement agreement to end practices amounting to a decade-long stop-and-frisk program that resulted in hundreds of thousands of baseless stops as well as racial and ethnic profiling of Black and Latino people citywide. The agreement provides a roadmap for how the Milwaukee Police Department and Fire and Police Commission must reform to protect the constitutional rights of the people they serve. The reforms are local, but the implications are national. This settlement sends a signal to police departments across the country about how to remedy stop-and-frisk practices that wrongfully criminalize people of color. The reforms in Milwaukee are the result of the settlement of Collins v. City of Milwaukee, a 2017 lawsuit brought by the ACLU and the law firm of Covington & Burling LLP on behalf of Black and Latino people, including a military veteran, a grandmother, students, and a state legislator.
By Todd Richmond for Associated Press - Prosecutors charged a Milwaukee police officer Thursday with killing a black man in August, alleging the man had thrown his gun away and was unarmed when the officer fired the fatal shot. Dominique Heaggan-Brown, who is also black, was charged with reckless homicide in the Aug. 13 death of Sylville Smith, which sparked two days of riots on Milwaukee's north side. In the days after the shooting, both the police chief and the mayor had said that police video clearly showed Smith had a gun and was turning toward officers when he was shot. Thursday's criminal complaint echoed that, but went on to describe a second shot, fired into Smith's chest after Smith no longer had his gun.
By Amy Mizialko for Labor Notes - If the Wisconsin legislature had gotten its way, private charter companies would have taken over at least one more public school in Milwaukee this year—pushing us dangerously near a tipping point to the planned extinction of our school district. But instead, thanks to the dogged activism of educators, students, parents, and community activists, we have staved off the immediate threat.
By Charmaine Lang for Rewire - On the day 23-year-old Sylville Smith was killed by a Milwaukee police officer, the city’s mayor, Tom Barrett, pleaded publicly with parents to tell their children to come home and leave protests erupting in the city. In a August 13 press conference, Barrett said: “If you love your son, if you love your daughter, text them, call them, pull them by the ears, and get them home. Get them home right now before more damage is done. Because we don’t want to see more loss of life, we don’t want to see any more injuries.”
By Brendan O’Brien for Reuters - The city of Milwaukee imposed a 10 p.m. curfew on Monday in an attempt to quell rioting that erupted the previous two nights in response to the police shooting of an armed black man in one of the most segregated cities in the United States. Mayor Tom Barrett also renewed his call for state officials to release a video of the Saturday night shooting in hopes it convinces angry protesters that deadly force against Sylville K. Smith, 23, was justified.
By Brendan O’Brien for Reuters - MILWAUKEE (Reuters) - The National Guard was activated on Sunday to help authorities should further rioting erupt in a predominantly black Milwaukee neighborhood where a policeman killed a suspect who officials said had turned toward the officer with a gun. Police Chief Edward Flynn said a silent video of the incident appeared to show the officer acting within lawful bounds in the shooting of Sylville K. Smith, 23, on Saturday after Smith fled a traffic stop. Flynn said the video from the officer’s body camera showed Smith turning toward the officer with a gun in his hand.
Educators, staff members, students and community members “walked-in” at 105 Milwaukee Public Schools on Sept. 18. This action was organized by the Milwaukee Teachers Education Association and Schools and Communities United, with support from dozens of labor-community organizations. Participants held rallies, informational picket lines and other events before the start of the school day and before they “walked-in” to their respective schools. Thousands across the city demanded an end to Wall Street attacks on public education. In a powerful solidarity action, similar groups organized simultaneous walk-ins at 14 public schools in LaCrosse, Wis., near the Minnesota state line. Over the past few years the right-wing-controlled Wisconsin Legislature has rammed through the greatest austerity cutbacks in the history of the state in public education — both K-12 and higher education.
By Tracey Pollock in Fight Back News - Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 998 started a 72-hour work stoppage this morning, July 1, at 3:00 a.m. It will go through 3:00 a.m. Saturday morning, July 4. The work stoppage comes during the middle of Summerfest, billed as the largest annual music festival in the world. An average of 800,000 to 1 million people attend over 11 days, with an estimated 15 to 20% of festival-goers taking public transportation. ATU president James Macon made clear that the company and the county government are to blame for the work stoppage, as they refused to provide a fair contract offer to the workers. “We have tried over and over again with the company to get something done but they kept putting it off and making excuses,” Macon said at a press conference in front of the ATU hall June 30.
One year ago this past Thursday 14 shots forever changed Dontre Hamilton’s family and the city of Milwaukee. Much has happened since those fatal shots left Milwaukee police officer Christopher Manney’s gun. Since that day in April the Coalition for Justice has worked hard to highlight the injustices of a system that allows officers like Manney to go free. Though some progress has been made, on Thursday the Hamilton family made clear that much remains to be done. How many more mothers must face what Maria Hamilton has endured? Mothers for Justice is organizing a Mother’s Day action in Washington DC. Please join if you can, or donate for the trip here.
To Milwaukee Police Department, The Coalition for Justice is an organization committed to action in the name of justice. We have been involved in the struggle for justice in this city for several months as an organized group, and have sought only to activate the power of the people to stand united against police violence and brutality. We write to you today to firmly and unequivocally say that we will not tolerate police intimidation and harassment of peaceful protesters and community members who are exercising their rights as citizens of this city and country. There have now been several incidents regarding this intimidation (unwarranted traffic stops, police surveillance outside of protesters homes, targeting specific protesters for arrest/harassment, etc.) that have been reported to us from the individuals who have been victims of this torment. This must stop now.
Statement from Khalil Coleman Milwaukee WI resident and Organizer from Occupy The Hood Milwaukee: For three years now dating back to the in custody death of Derek Williams, I have been a vocal activist for the group Occupy the Hood Milwaukee. Within these three years we have faced four very influential cases of injustice; Darius Simmons, Derek Williams, Corey Stingley, and now a national case with Dontre Hamilton. Just recently, I have been arrested three times for civil disobedience, have been personally called out by our chief of police and now am wanted (without a warrant issued) for ‘interrogation and desire to charge’ by Milwaukee Police Department. They have searched for me for two days now using the Fugitive and Apprehension Division.