“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.