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.
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.]
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.