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.
[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.
There is an audio version of this article, which should also be available anywhere you can subscribe to podcasts. If you cannot find it on your preferred ap, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
[UPDATE: the finance committee meeting was postponed to Monday July 26, because of a sport, and Chisholm’s newest report has appeared. ]
Milwaukee county sheriff, Earnell Lucas has been breaking the law for the last few months. County ordinance 56.02 requires that government agencies with projections of a “deficit of at least one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000.00) or an overtime deficit of at least one million dollars ($1,000,000.00)” must file a report that “shall include the reasons for the anticipated deficit, as well as a recommended plan of action or alternatives to offset such deficit.” Earnell Lucas has exceeded the $3 million sheriff’s office (MCSO) overtime budget by at least three times a million every year, without filing adequate reports as required, by law.
As abolitionists, we don’t much care for laws, but we also despise law enforcement hypocrisy. We have found that, when it comes to following, rather than enforcing them, cops and sheriffs don’t much care for laws either.
On Thursday, June 24, the Milwaukee County Board will vote on creating 3 new deputy sheriff positions using $300,000 from the county mental health budget. These funds are coming in connection with the Crisis Assessment Response Team (CART) program, which replaces a deputy sheriff with a mental health professional on calls relating to mental health crises.
Please contact your county supervisor (find them here) to demand they oppose the creation of new deputy sheriffs using mental health dollars. When calling, express support for the CART program because replacing deputies with mental health clinicians on mental health calls reduces the risk of people in crisis being assaulted, arrested, and incarcerated. However, it is inappropriate and absurd for the sheriff’s office to use a program that replaces sheriff deputies with clinicians as a reason to take money from the mental health budget to hire more sheriff deputies.