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.
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.
On October 13, governor Evers almost kind of started making an investment in alternatives to state violence in Milwaukee. He came here to announce $45 million from Wisconsin’s recovery act (ARPA) funds would go into “safer communities and violence prevention.”
Unfortunately, as with his pardon announcements, this is another of his misleading headlines. Behind the headlines, nearly half ($20 million) of the allocated funds are going to supporting victim services through the department of justice. We know them from their work obstructing the release of old law prisoners. That is not violence prevention.
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.