Tag Archives: Voces de la Frontera

Milwaukee Marches for Immigration and Worker Rights on May Day

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The front of the Milwaukee May Day march lines up (photo credit: Joe Brusky of Overpass Light Brigade).

The front of the Milwaukee May Day march lines up (photo credit: Joe Brusky of Overpass Light Brigade).

Milwaukee, WI – Thousands marched for May Day in Milwaukee Friday. The workers of Wisconsin have been under constant attack and if Friday’s massive turnout is any indication, they are starting to organize and fight back.

Wisconsin has the highest incarceration rate for African American men in the nation, and the city of Milwaukee was recently rated as the most racially segregated city in the county. The Milwaukee Police Department has had several high-profile cases of police brutality against people of color, and the current proposed state budget allocates more funding to the industrial prison complex than the public university system. Students in Wisconsin understand the implications this has for their future.

 

Students march from the South Side of Milwaukee to the Milwaukee Courthouse.

Students march from the South Side of Milwaukee to the Milwaukee Courthouse.

 

Students are the ones with the most to lose. Enter Youth Empowered in the Struggle (YES), a network of emerging student activists that made their presence known on Friday. Present at the rally and march from Milwaukee were chapters from South Division High School, Escuela Verde, Reagan High School, UWM, and Marquette. Racine also sent chapters from Horlick, Case, Park, and Walden.

 

A Youth Empowered in the Struggle table was set up for students to sign in.

A Youth Empowered in the Struggle table was set up for students to sign in.

 

 

Another reality for many workers and families in Wisconsin is the threat of deportation. Many Milwaukee families have been broken up by needless raids by ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) agents. Many marched for an immigration policy that doesn’t separate families.

 

 

Legislative attacks on Wisconsin workers have come in many forms, including Act 10 and the so-called “right to work” law. These laws make it harder for workers to organize unions, and fight for their best interests when negotiating with employers over wages and working conditions.

 

 

Marchers make their way across the Menominee Valley into downtown Milwaukee over the 6th Street Bridge.

Marchers make their way across the Menominee Valley into downtown Milwaukee over the 6th Street Bridge.

 

The May Day march arrives in downtown Milwaukee.

The May Day march arrives in downtown Milwaukee.

 

After the two-mile trek across the Menominee Valley and into downtown, the marchers finally arrived at the Milwaukee County Courthouse, where the students filled the steps.

 

 

 

 

 

Once at the courthouse several speakers from different movements across the city spoke, including the low wage worker Fight for 15.

 

Students from Reagan High School stressed the importance of fighting for strong, locally controlled public schools. They also spoke out about the proposed state budget that cuts K-12 public school funding by $127 million, slashes $300 million from the state’s public university system, and increases funding for incarceration.

 

 

Wisconsin workers may have a lot holding them down, but when united as they were Friday, it’s hard to imagine what they can’t do together.

 

 

 

All photos were taken by Joe Brusky of Overpass Light Brigade. Additional photos from Milwaukee’s May Day march can be found here.

Crashing An Anti-Immigration Overpass Protest in Milwaukee

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Milwaukee, WI - Perhaps those planning anti-immigration overpass protests around the nation should have thought about the fact that the majority of Americans do not support their hate. In Milwaukee they had to find out the hard way.

When I arrived at the original overpass bridge chosen for the Saturday protest I immediately found that it was closed for construction. Counter protestors were already milling about wondering if the protest would be cancelled, as there were no protestors to be seen. The gathered counter protestors collectively decided to change course and simply walk to the nearest busy street corner and hold signs, which they did for about 20 minutes when word came that Anti-immigration protestors were spotted on a different bridge a quarter mile away. Everyone immediately made the move to the new location.

When I pulled up to the Howard Avenue overpass bridge there was a group of about 7 (6 on one side of the street and 1 on the other) holding “No Amnesty” and “Defend Our Borders” signs to traffic passing underneath. Counter protestors had already begun to arrive filling the opposite side of the bridge quickly outnumbering the few protestors present.

Photo credit: C.M. DeSpears

Photo credit: C.M. DeSpears

Once the opposite side of the bridge filled, several counter protests began making their way to the opposite side of the overpass strategically positioning their “Mr President: Stop the Deportations” banner immediately next to the protestors effectively co-opting the original thrust of the  action.

One of the child migrant protestors, upset over the counter protestors’ actions told them to leave his side of the bridge whining that, “they were there first”. The video embedded below captures one of the proud counter protestor’s response.

Pro-immigration groups ended up outnumbering the anti-immigration demonstrators by about 5-to-1, drowning out their hate and sending a message that Wisconsin welcomes immigrant children and rejects the hate of those stalking and harassing migrant children. Apparently the same thing happened on an overpass in Philly. If these so-called “patriots” continue to meet this kind of reaction from everyday Americans perhaps they might think twice about displaying their hate in public for all to see.

Crashing An Anti-Immigration Overpass Protest from Occupy Riverwest on Vimeo.

Milwaukee Protestors Disrupt ICE Deportation Raids

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Milwaukee, WI - In a series of recent raids, Milwaukee Immigration & Customs Enforcement agents in cooperation with Milwaukee Police have rounded up dozens of undocumented Milwaukeeans, leaving many families broken. Protestors claim they have organized rallies and marches, made phone calls, and have written letters to politicians to try and seek a solution without success. That left them with one remaining option. If ICE wasn’t willing to stop the raids, then they would stop the raids themselves.

Protestors chained themselves together in protective lockboxes and laid down in front of three different ICE Office garage doors preventing vans from getting out to make their runs for the day.

The MPD issued three different warnings to protestors to remove themselves or face arrest, but each time they refused. No one was ever arrested and after about three hours, the protestors claimed victory, successfully shutting down the vans for at least one day.

Unfortunately, protestors can’t block the vans everyday, but will need immigration reform in order for the vans to remain permanently parked. Call or contact your local elected officials and tell them #Not1More deportation until the broken immigration system is fixed.

Lighted message and photo courtesy of the Overpass Light Brigade.

Lighted message and photo courtesy of the Overpass Light Brigade.

Striking Palermo’s Workers Take Their Boycott Message to Marquette University

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The Boycott Palermo's informational picket line ran right next to the student line waiting to get into the basketball game

Milwaukee, WI - As a line of hundreds of Marquette University students continued to build for their home game basketball game of the year versus fellow Jesuit University rival Notre Dame a different line also began to form. This line was equally as loud and visible despite visibly less numbers than the huge student turnout for the final home game of the year. This was a Boycott Palermo’s Pizza informational picket line aiming to educate game goers about the ongoing strike and boycott at the local pizza company, where workers were illegally fired for organizing a union.

Striking Palermo's workers and MU students band together to bring their message to waiting students.

Striking Palermo’s workers and MU students band together to bring their message to waiting students.

According to their Facebook page, the informational picket was organized by the MU Coalition for Worker Rights to:

“…demand that Marquette University cut its contract with Palermo Villa, Inc.

Marquette University, despite being an affiliate of two international groups that support fair labor rights, has a contract with Palermo’s Pizza, a company that fired dozens of workers this summer for attempting to form a union.

The MUCWR stands in solidarity with the Palermo workers, and is urging Marquette to stand behind its principles and international agreements by cutting its contract with this exploitative company.”

 

The Boycott Palermo's informational picket line ran right next to the student line waiting to get into the basketball game

The Boycott Palermo’s informational picket line ran right next to the student line waiting to get into the basketball game

A group of about 40 workers and their supporters held signs, marched, chanted, passed out literature explaining the labor dispute, and generally made themselves visible engaging many passersby and game attendees into perhaps pondering why their university was drawing such a spirited protest. Check out our video below from Saturday’s event.

Bringing Palermos Boycott to Marquette from Occupy Riverwest on Vimeo.

Peace Action of Wisconsin Joins OLB and Voces in Calling for Full Investigation of Milwaukee County Deputy

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This was the message being displayed by the group when they were swarmed by Milwaukee law enforcement.

This was the message being displayed by the group when they were swarmed by Milwaukee law enforcement.

Milwaukee, WI - Peace Action Wisconsin has joined the Overpass Light Brigade (OLB) and Voces de la Frontera’s call for a full investigation in to the outrageous actions of Deputy Callies last Friday on an overpass bridge over I-43, while the group held a “PALERMOS – NEGOTIATE!” message. OLB and Voces have also begun the process of opening up a Freedom of Information (FOI) request and sent formal letters to local politicians calling upon them to also ask for an investigation into what happened. In addition to these actions, the two women whose camera phones were illegally confiscated have also filed formal complaints against Deputy Callies.

Here is the letter drafted and released by Peace Action Wisconsin today:

Peace Action of Wisconsin Letter of Support

_________________________________________________________________________

Peace Action Wisconsin Demands Investigation into Police Action on August 24, 2012

Peace Action Wisconsin, a community organization in its 35th year, has long been involved in our state’s various struggles for civil and individual rights. This work has confronted injustice in many forms, including racism, xenophobia, violence, and the stifling of labor rights. Thus, Peace Action-WI finds particularly troubling the events that occurred on Friday, August 24, 2012, around 9:00 pm on the Ring Street bridge over highway I-43. Workers, families, and supporters of the Palermo’s Workers Union joined with Milwaukee’s Overpass Light Brigade (an organization known for presenting over 70 illuminated messages of social justice over Milwaukee’s freeways in the past 10 months) in an effort to present the slogan “PALERMO’S – NEGOTIATE” to travelers below the bridge. In response to this action, nearly 20 police vehicles arrived at the scene, including six Milwaukee police squads, two bike patrols, two motorcycle police, a paddy wagon, a K-9 unit, and nine sheriff’s vehicles (according to Georgia Pabst’s Journal Sentinel article of August 27, 2012). This extreme response is both puzzling and disturbing. Further, Rosemarie Molina, the national coordinator for the Palermo’s boycott effort, had her cell phone ripped from her hand by a Sheriff’s Deputy (this was captured on video, and Ms. Molina has since filed a complaint for illegal confiscation of property, harassment, and physical harm to her hand). Eventually, upon leaving, officers explained that the police presence on the bridge was a result of a “misunderstanding” and allowed those gathered to return to their light project. Peace Action Wisconsin calls on the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Department, the Milwaukee Police Department, and Milwaukee County’s Board of Directors to conduct a full investigation into this matter. We demand that the rights of assembly, free speech, and freedom from police intimidation be respected and preserved.

 Here is the video of Deputy Callies illegally and aggressively confiscating a camera phone.