On Monday August 30, following a news conference on transit, some prison abolitionists confronted Wisconsin governor Tony Evers. Evers’ aides ushered him away and tried to defend the governor’s policies. Here is video of the encounter, and our response to his statements.
When we spoke last Monday, you ignored well-founded criticism and dodged public accountability on prison atrocities by telling me you wanted a statement in writing. You instructed that we send you some resources to verify what we are saying.
Well, here’s our response, in writing, per your request:
This is an audio version of “You have it in writing. (An open letter to Tony Evers)” published at ABOLISHmke.com on September 6, 2021.
Music thanks to snag. snagmke.bandcamp.com
ABOLISHmke, news and analysis from a bad place. We write from an anti-authoritarian perspective on police, prisons, and more in the so-called state of Wisconsin.
We will publish anything sent to us that conforms to our editorial standards for authenticity, conflict, and rigor. Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions: abolishmke [at] protonmail [dot] com.
Around noon on Saturday, August 28, 2021, dozens of activists descended on the sprawling maximum-security Green Bay Correctional Institute (GBCI) in Allouez, WI. The direct action event was organized autonomously by a coalition including ABOLISHmke and members of the local Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL). Our goals were manifold: to expose the routine atrocities committed by staff with tacit support of local and state authorities; to confidently assure those still trapped inside that we love, care for, and honor them; and to highlight and signal boost the experiences of formerly incarcerated people and loved ones of current captives. We also came with a set of demands for Warden Dylon Radtke and executives like Governor Tony Evers which we attempted to deliver to the front office.
EDITOR’S NOTE: In February of 2021, the Wisconsin prison system (DOC) decided to reduce companies providing commissary to incarcerated people from three to one. As we previously reported, the company they chose is Union Supply. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel published an article about this upcoming change. Malik, who is incarcerated at Wisconsin Secure Program Facility (WSPF), sent us the following response to what MJS has published. We have added a couple notes and hyperlinks to sources, to expand on what Malik discusses.
As usual, rather than be forthright & truthful, the Wisconsin prison system (DOC), via their mouthpiece John Beard, is spewing lies, half truths & omitting significant information about this vendor situation. One key thing in the Journal Sentinel article is Beard’s statement about there being a “security” issue with having Marcus as a vendor because our people can go to the store & purchase items. In essence, he’s suggesting that our people & Marcus staff will conspire to put contraband in the products.
Leading up to Milwaukee’s Shut Em Down 2021 mobilization, it’s important to remember that there are rebels and fighters in Wisconsin prisons. We don’t often hear about the kinds of massive strikes, uprisings, and escapes that are tracked at Perilous Chronicle, but that doesn’t mean people are safe or passive within Wisconsin prisons. Part of the Shut’Em Down mobilization in Milwaukee will include holding up the sacrifices and struggles of Wisconsin prison rebels in greater depth, but here is a start.
An audio version of this article should also be available anywhere you can subscribe to podcasts. If you cannot find it on your preferred ap, contact email@example.com.
Since coming into office, Governor Tony Evers has struggled to reconcile his personal belief in bipartisanship with the highly partisan election that actually put him in office. He defeated the polarizing incumbent Scott Walker by a very slim margin of only 29,227 votes. That victory did not come from Tony Evers winning over republicans with his folksy moderate message. The good ole boys in the grand ole party stood by their man in 2018.
Some pundits have talked about Walker’s base weakening, and the difficulty of running for a third term, but the actual vote count shows that Walker got all the support anyone could ask for. There were 2.7 million voters in 2018, that’s the most ever in a Wisconsin midterm election. Nearly half of those voters went republican. Evers won because his turnout was even higher. According to analysts, his support among “young energetic” voters was key. That energy was fueled by hatred of Scott Walker and Donald Trump, not love of milquetoast Tony.
So, here’s how Marklein’s “normal legislative process” works: popular, well-crafted, bipartisan reforms get squanched by republican leadership in favor of unpopular, slip-shod, and logistically impracticable bills designed as veto-bait to rile up the party’s base with racially coded messaging. Calling that “good” is hilarious. Howard Marklein wins king of comedy in this session.
On Thursday June 10, the budget of Wisconsin’s prison system (DOC) went before the joint finance committee and, despite statements of broad bipartisan support for shrinking the system, lawmakers passed a budget that expands prisons and will kill people. The atmosphere was one of jovial comradery as issues of life and death were raised, silenced, and voted on.
This legislature is so gerrymandered, broken, and corrupt that even members of the ruling party can’t help but make jokes at their own expense. Apparently there was some kind of dysfunction going on with republican members of the committee. They delayed their June 8 session more than 5 hours and started Thursday’s session 90 minutes late. Even then, all of the republican senators other than the senate chair, Howard Marklein (r- Spring Green) failed to appear, prompting Jon Erpenbach (d- Madison suburbs) to jokingly remark “I don’t know what you did to your team, Howard,” during roll call. Marklein laughed and joked back: “I’ll need your vote, Erpenbach.” Everyone laughed.
On May 13th 2021, Restrictive Housing Unit (RHU) staff and guards at Green Bay CI murdered someone. We have heard from a few people who are also being held at GBCI that his name was Antonio Whatley. Despite having called GBCI, sent email inquiries to its administrators and the sheriff’s department, and filed records requests (for the victim’s name and DOC number, as well as daily shift logs), we have yet to receive any information about this from the DOC. The information we have received we are going to share here, but in the interest of protecting the people who are helping us stay informed, we will be publishing their words anonymously. They have several reasons to be concerned for their safety—both in general, and specifically when they are sharing information the guards don’t want to be shared. Retaliation that prisoners experience from guards is real, torturous, and potentially deadly.
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.