UPDATE 6/16: The snitch house bill is likely to pass the legislature today. Please join the action to demand governor Evers veto it.
UPDATE 6/11: Yesterday the Joint Finance Committee put $1 million into the budget for snitch houses. The full assembly will vote on slew of bills on Wednesday June 16, including this and other fake police reforms. Please contact assembly representatives (listed below) before then to demand they vote against any bill that will expand police funding or scope of work.
Here at ABOLISHmke, we’ve put a lot of attention on the snitch house (AB258) bill (also known as COP house) ever since it passed the senate with unanimous support. Well, that attention is starting to register victories. On June 2nd the Committee on Local Government held an executive session on it, and every democratic representative voted against it. Despite this, it still passed the committee — republicans dominate the legislature in Wisconsin.
I’d like to discuss how GBCI is being turned into the new supermax of Wisconsin.
How is that you ask?
Well the new renovations of the cages they keep us locked in for this is not a house, room, place, cell, or any other odd terms they use to describe the living conditions they lock us up to die in. Though most of us will be getting out, people like me who have to live in here every day, till our last breath—it is a living hell.
This article is part four of a series on legislation to create snitch houses, also known as “COP houses” across Wisconsin.
While advocating for snitch houses, senator Taylor made backroom deals with the republican establishment. She says she’s looking for community houses that provide wrap-around services, but what’s actually happening is police are taking control of resources and services, while expanding their role in society.
In early May, SB124 and AB258 were amended to remove the appropriation of grant funding, expand eligibility requirements to include smaller cities, and add a few usage specifications. Kelda Roys was the sole vote against this amendment in the senate committee, but she ultimately ended up voting in favor of the bill. During the May 18 assembly committee hearing, Mark Spreitzer asked the senators, “why [they] took the money out of the bill […] is it going to be a two year thing, or ongoing?
This article is part three in our series on legislation to create snitch houses, also known as “COP houses” across Wisconsin.
In the last article we showed how putting a snitch house in a targeted area reduces crime in that specific area, but increases economic and emotional strain for targeted residents. People experiencing stress are more likely to resort to crime, they just go somewhere further from police presence to do it.
At the May 18 hearing, committee member Sue S Conley, a democrat whose district borders zigzag tightly around Janesville, making the neighboring districts more solidly republican, recognized this dynamic. “You come into a neighborhood,” she said, “you establish the house […] did the problem just shift to another neighborhood?” Van Wanggaard’s response was a gleeful “sometimes,” but Taylor cut him off with a more diplomatic response that acknowledged the real problem. She went onto a tangent about drug dealers operating out of their cars rather than drug houses to be more mobile. Her statement reinforced, rather than allaying, Conley’s concern. Then Wanggaard burst back in with a great real-life example.
This is part two of our series on the legislation to create snitch houses, also known as “COP houses” across Wisconsin.
At the May 18 hearing, senator Van Wanggaard introduced the snitch house bill by portraying it as an attempt at police reform. “The police cannot be an occupying force in an area,” he emphatically stated. But, throughout his testimony, when describing how snitch houses work, his reformist mask slipped. He described police using snitch houses to “take over” and “gain control” of areas, exactly as an occupying force would. The reality that he, a former cop, cannot grapple with, is that police are always an occupying force in the neighborhoods they target. The houses AB258 seeks to fund are simply the first bulwarks of this occupation.
Senator Taylor joined in, describing the impact snitch houses have on the areas they target, but she relied heavily on some questionable statistics. She repeatedly cited a story about “20% of people causing 80% of the chaos.” If you look up this stat, the first thing you’ll likely find is quotes from pop-economist Malcolm Gladwell, a sure sign that it’s dubious and exaggerated. Digging deeper, we found the actual source, a study from Duke University where researchers were looking to prove the “Pareto Principle,” a quirky theory that the 20/80 rule applies to many aspects of life and social phenomenon.
During the May 18 public hearing on the Snitch House bill (SB124/AB258 also known as COP house bill) Lena Taylor and Van Wanggaard revealed that their co-authored, pro-cop legislation is everything we fear, and worse. We already have a long article detailing snitch houses (bootlickers call them COP houses) but, the more we learn and reflect on supporter’s statements at the hearings, the more we have to say.
There is so much to unpack from Taylor and Wanggaard’s introduction that we are going to put out a three part series, starting this week. The bill gets its first assembly committee vote on Wednesday, June 2. Please call or email the democratic members of the committee before Wednesday!
[UPDATE: the snitch house bill went to vote Wednesday June 15. Some representatives, esp Baldeh, Brostoff, and Bowen made strong arguments against snitch houses on the floor, but the bill passed by voice vote, so we cannot tell who all voted which way on it. The republicans were capable of passing the bill even if we had turned every democrat against it. Governor Evers has stated that he will sign the snitch house bill, as well as a few other bills that had bipartisan support.
There was a lot of bad legislation rammed through on Wednesday, some of it met strong opposition from democrats. For the most part, republicans did not respond verbally, they just moved to vote and passed the bills as quickly as they could. Evers will veto bills that didn’t gain support from democrats in the legislature, which is why it matters when democrats like senator Lena Taylor and representative Sheila Stubbs collaborate with clear white supremacists like Van Wanggaaard and Jim Steineke. They give legitimacy to bad legislation that would die if they hadn’t supported it.]
Two days after the one year anniversary of his murder and on the eve of the anniversary of Minneapolis’ third precinct going up in flames, the government of Wisconsin has little interest in meeting the simple demands of the people. By refusing to institute real accountability measures for police, they are spitting on the grave of George Floyd.
The way staff at Columbia CI (CCI) treat us with such disrespect is out of control. One will never actually know how we get treated without being here in real life to see for yourself. I’ve been in CCI for over 2 years now out of the 9 years I’ve been incarcerated. This is the worst I’ve ever seen. The staff will lie to you or to the higher-ups when brought to their attention. They will yell at you as if you are some animal and not a person, even if you’re not in the wrong and they are. It’s their way or nothing, like it or not, right or wrong. They do not care. They have the worst communication skills I’ve ever experienced in my entire life, not only in prison but EVER.
Guards go out of their way to make it hard for us. They abuse their power in so many ways. The things they do are so confusing to us, but who are we to try to ask a question?? All we get is total disrespect and told in an aggressive tone “GO LOCK IN NOW”.
There’s a bill working its way through the state legislature that will give police $600,000 to establish snitch houses in many Wisconsin cities. A snitch house, also called a COP or “community oriented policing” house, is a small police department that looks like a house and provides “wraparound services” like after-school programming to the neighboring community in exchange for improved community and police relations. By “improved relations,” they mean snitching.
Now the assembly version of the bill, AB258, is coming up for a hearing in Madison on Tuesday May 18 alongside the assembly version of SB119, the notorious “fund the police” bill. SB119 is an empty republican provocation with zero bipartisan support. Governor Evers will certainly veto it. The snitch house grant is a bigger threat because, without intervention, it will actually become law.