“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.
This is the last in a three-part series about closing the illegal youth prisons in Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake (LH/CL). Part one outlined the best, fastest way to close these prisons. Part two re-examined the sordid tale of compromises that left the prisons open, and the millions of dollars the democrats are trying to spend on new ones. In this part, we’ll take a look at what could be funded with those millions instead.
The actual needs of Milwaukee youth
Democrats are trying to spend $42-46 million on a new prison in Milwaukee county that would cage 36 children. At the low end, that’s $1.17 million each child. Last February there were 22 kids from Milwaukee county in LH/CL who this new prison would be built for. That’s about $2 million each child. That’s ridiculous.
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.
[edit: this article originally stated that the October 4 public hearing would be at common council chambers. The common council has decided to do the meeting virtually, due to the ongoing pandemic numbers.]
Defunding and abolishing police have become a national conversation since the burning of the 3rd precinct in Minneapolis, but abolitionists and organizers in Milwaukee were fighting to defund police for years prior to that, and with some success. This year we need everyone involved to keep up the fight!
Why we need to defund MPD
Milwaukee Police Department (MPD) has consistently proven itself to be violent, racist, and ineffective. Each year, Milwaukee residents spend nearly $300 million dollars on policing, which represents approximately 45% of the city budget. Elected officials have divested in our communities to expand police funding. It seems they are resigned to surveillance and incarceration as the primary means for addressing social problems.