“Municipal courts, as we are fond of saying, are not broken. They are a coercive apparatus perfectly suited to limiting the mobility (physical, economic, and political) of racialized subjects. They will produce what they are designed to produce until they are abolished.” – Brendan Roediger
Milwaukee exercised its option to create a municipal court in 1975. Since that time, Milwaukee Municipal Court has played an important role in legitimizing police, expanding the scope of the legal punishment system, and has extracted hundreds of millions of dollars from Milwaukee residents, primarily Black residents who are experiencing poverty. In 2015, several of Milwaukee’s Common Council members publicly considered abolishing the municipal court.This piece will explore the harms perpetrated by the municipal court and show that Milwaukee Municipal Court must be abolished.
People have overwhelming come out to say: we want fewer cops, and more investment in people and communities. But right now: our work is at risk!
Politicians in Milwaukee are making decisions that will either continue the city’s carceral and white supremacist approach to public safety, or depart from it to invest in people and communities. This is a time when we need the whole city talking about the budgets, and particularly about defunding police. If you haven’t contacted your local representatives yet, on both the city and county level, now is the time.
What’s at stake this week:
195 more cops. Mayor Tom Barrett proposed three police recruit classes of 65 cops each, which will cost Milwaukee $6 million. Common council will approve it next Monday unless we stop them.
Harm reduction in the jail and house of corruption (HOC). A committee of the county board is hearing a resolution about giving people held in the jail and HOC free phone calls and video visits on Friday, October 29, at 10:30am.
$3 million increase for county sheriff’s office (MCSO). County exec David Crowley proposed raises for MCSO staff, but the county board can shut him down.
$700,000 for lakefront surveillance. Crowley also proposed a system to expand MCSO surveillance and violence on the lakefront.
Divesting $11.3 million MCSO. County board members introduced 24 amendments that will take money from the sheriff and put it into human needs and real public safety.
Milwaukee Common Council is having their annual session for public testimony on the budget on Monday, October 4, at 6:30pm. This is the single opportunity the government creates specifically to get yelled at by residents about what budget priorities should be.
This year the hearing will be virtual, due to the pandemic. Register online now! Registration closes at 4:30 PM on Monday.
Sheriff Earnell Lucas and his toady Ted Chisholm have been teaming up with private companies to exploit Milwaukee families for years. We can make them stop! At the county jail and house of corruption (HOC) people who want to talk to their families or eat halfway decent food need to use services provided at exploitative rates by private companies, who kick some of their profits back to Lucas and Chisholm at the county sheriff’s office (MCSO).
Ryan Clancy, Milwaukee’s openly abolitionist county board member, has been busy. First, he’s introducing two resolutions that, if passed, will significantly reduce the harm of incarceration in the county jail and HOC. Second, he’s getting county board members to read and discuss Mariame Kaba with the public.
The first of Clancy’s resolutions will give 75 minutes of free phone time and 75 minutes of free video visitation time available to everyone held in either facility. The second will cap commissary prices, requiring that people held in these facilities be charged either the manufacturer’s suggested retail price, or only 125% of the typical price at a chain store in Milwaukee County.
On Monday August 30, following a news conference on transit, some prison abolitionists confronted Wisconsin governor Tony Evers. Evers’ aides ushered him away and tried to defend the governor’s policies. Here is video of the encounter, and our response to his statements.
When we spoke last Monday, you ignored well-founded criticism and dodged public accountability on prison atrocities by telling me you wanted a statement in writing. You instructed that we send you some resources to verify what we are saying.
Well, here’s our response, in writing, per your request: