Category Archives: Local

Beat Back the Right Wing’s Attack on MPS “Black Lives Matter” Resolution

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Leave it to right wing radio to attempt to destroy any progress towards improving the situation for people of color in Milwaukee, the most segregated city in America. Milwaukee students need you to show up at Tuesday night’s MPS School Board meeting to defend a recently passed “Black Lives Matter” resolution.

In 2015,  a much-needed Black Lives Matter resolution was passed by the MPS School Board.

Black Lives Matter, Milwaukee Public Schools Resolution 1516R-001 April 28, 2015

WHEREAS, The United Nations Declaration of Human Rights (1948) boldly declared that, “Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship…”; and

WHEREAS, As a public school district, we are facilitators of the limitless growth potential of human beings. Our charge is to pour every ounce of creativity and energy that we have into the task of helping young people find and achieve their purpose. Our purpose must be guided by the belief that every human being deserves to live with dignity and that each of our students can leave his or her communities better than he or she found them; and

WHEREAS, The killing of unarmed Black men and women has left young people searching for answers to incredibly complicated and infuriating questions; and

WHEREAS, The extrajudicial killing of Black people in this country has deep roots in the dehumanizing system of white supremacy that once defined Black bodies as property and persisted in the form of lynchings during the 100 years of Jim Crow. The mob and the whip have been replaced by government sponsored “programs” like COINTELPRO, the war on drugs, mass incarceration, unjust policing, and structural policies that maintain racial segregation (redlining, urban renewal, and more) that exploit and oppress poor communities. Because these tragedies are not new and have lasting negative consequences for our communities, cities, and nation, we need to assert, over and over again, that the lives of Black people matter; and

WHEREAS, As WEB Du Bois stated, “The teachers of Black youth must believe in them. They must have faith in them and their community. They must trust them and encourage them and defend them.” Right now that means affirming that we are committed to the emotional and physical safety of Black students. It means that our schools and classrooms must be safe spaces for dialogue and support on the issues raised by the Black Lives Matter movement and the efforts to reverse the school-to-prison pipeline; and

WHEREAS, We believe deeply that the lives of all people matter. As a school district and as educators our lives are constructed around this fact. Shouting loudly that “Black Lives Matter” does not negate our commitment to ALL of our students. In fact, we believe that challenging all of our students and colleagues to recognize the innate value of Black lives will help them grow and that the quality of life for all who live in our communities will improve when we value the lives of everyone. Since so many of our Black students struggle to trust that our society values them, we must affirm that their lives, specifically, matter; and

WHEREAS, Historically, when Black people have fought for a more democratic society, the lives of all people have improved. Each time barriers to Black people’s potential have been erected, our whole society has suffered; and
WHEREAS, Educators knows that each of our students has different needs and that none of their lives end at our classroom doors. When our students are hungry or struggle emotionally, they don’t learn as well as they otherwise could. When our students witness or experience violence, they suffer emotionally and physically. To maximize student potential, our school system must meet the needs of our students in different ways. Right now, it is especially important for Black students to know that we value them, no matter what the legal system and police actions tell them; and

WHEREAS, Problems in our schools mirror those in our society. Society is plagued with poverty, growing inequality, gun culture, and violence. For our schools to be safe and centers of respect for the educational process, students, staff, parents and community must all come together for the betterment of our students’ future now; and

WHEREAS, The problems mirrored in schools can only be fully addressed with a united effort of community and school coming together; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That our district and schools and classrooms create safe space for dialog and support on issues faced in communities and schools related to policing, the educational process, and improving school safety; and be it

FURTHER RESOLVED, That quality restorative justice practices be expanded and deepened district-wide, with the goal of training all staff in those practices; and be it

FURTHER RESOLVED, That the district create an advisory council — comprising community, parents, educators, and students — to assist in reviewing, strengthening, and creating curriculum and policy related to the issues raised by the Black Lives Matter movement, the efforts to derail the school-to-prison pipeline, the broader historical experience of the Black community, and present schooling experience; and be it

FURTHER RESOLVED, That the above advisory council shall assist in implementing policy and curriculum and establishing quality dialog with staff, parents, students and community; and be it

FURTHER RESOLVED, That student leaders of all types be called on to participate in advancing this discussion and implementation; and be it

FURTHER RESOLVED, That the effort include discussions of biases, racial micro-aggressions, school-wide
data on race and discipline, fears, cultural ignorance, and stereotypes of Black youth; and be it

FURTHER RESOLVED, That these discussions lead to training of school staffs in methods of de-escalation, mindfulness, creating a culture of trust, and cultural relevance; and be it

FURTHER RESOLVED, That one of the goals of this process be to strengthen bringing community into our schools and to strengthen schools as centers of support for communities; and be it

FURTHER RESOLVED, That the district review its programs that may be contributing to unfair, unequal power relationships with community and school policing.

According to the author of the resolution, School Board Director Larry Miller:

Since its adoption, a group of community educators, parents, MPS teachers, principals and administrators have been meeting and preparing to implement the work, starting this summer. While the resolution calls for a broad reach in implementing the lessons of the Black Lives Matter movement, the working group is focusing on teaching and learning, along with restorative practices. Professional development training is being planned to be carried out this summer to prepare for implementing in classrooms and schools for this Fall.

This resolution squarely takes aim at the school-to-prison pipeline in Milwaukee, allocating $471,073 to implement restorative justice programs across the district, as well as creates ethnic studies positions. In a city that incarcerates more African Americans than anywhere in the world and that has been dubbed “the worst place to raise a young African American boy,” among other dubious worst-of lists, these measures do not go nearly far enough to address these problems for people of color, but they both represent progress. As with any attempt to improve the climate in Milwaukee, the right wing stands stubbornly in the way. Right wing talkers Charlie Sykes and Mark Belling have asked their listeners to show up to Tuesday night’s MPS school board meeting to speak against this resolution. Please be in attendance to drown out their hate and speak in favor of it.

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Facebook event page

Where: MPS Central Offices (5225 W Vliet St, Milwaukee, WI 53208)

When: Tuesday, May 24th at 6:30pm

 

 

Milwaukee Transit Drivers & Mechanics Begin 3-Day Work Stoppage

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Milwaukee transit workers held this Overpass Light Brigade message at Wednesday night's work stoppage rally at MCTS headquarters (photo credit: Joe Brusky).

Milwaukee transit workers held this Overpass Light Brigade message at Wednesday night’s work stoppage rally at MCTS headquarters (photo credit: Joe Brusky).

“What you’re seeing here is a middle finger in the face of “right to work” a middle finger at “Act 10″ and anything that tells workers that you don’t have a right to a voice on your job and I love it! I’m proud of it.

- Milwaukee activist and former MCTS driver Angela Walker

Workers in Wisconsin are beginning to wake up to the fact that the only way they can fight back against the attack on labor is through collective action. On Wednesday morning ATU Local 998 workers began what will be a 3-day work stoppage unless their demands are met.

The drivers and mechanics walked off the job at 3:00am after County Executive Chris Abele refused to budge on ATU Local 998′s demands.

ATU 998 workers began their work stoppage at 3:00am at the Kinnickinnic MCTS facility (photo credit: Joe Brusky).

ATU 998 workers began their work stoppage at 3:00am at the Kinnickinnic MCTS facility (photo credit: Joe Brusky).

The workers demands are simple:

After pickets at individual transit facilities during the day union president James Macon rallied hundreds of workers at the MCTS administration building to end the first day of action.

ATU 998 President James Macon speaks to workers gathered  outside of MCYS headquarters Wednesday night (photo credit: Joe Brusky).

ATU 998 President James Macon speaks to workers gathered outside of MCYS headquarters Wednesday night (photo credit: Joe Brusky).

MCTS workers march around MCTS headquarters (photo credit: Joe Brusky).

MCTS workers march around MCTS headquarters (photo credit: Joe Brusky).

The drivers and mechanics represented by ATU 998 will continue the work stoppage until the Fourth of July, when they return to work.

Watch the video below shot and edited by Milwaukee videographer Erik Ljung from Wednesday night’s gathering outside MCTS headquarters.

July 1, 2015 – Milwaukee County Bus Drivers and Mechanics on Work Stoppage from Erik Ljung on Vimeo.

Join workers on Thursday night at 5:00pm for another large rally at the Milwaukee County Courthouse.

rally

UWM Students Sit-In to Demand Action from Administration on Walker Budget

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“They say cutback, we say fightback!”

University of Wisconsin students wanted a meeting with their chancellor. On Thursday afternoon, they walked into the chancellor’s office and sat down until they got a meeting with him. The students’ demands focused on Governor Walker’s budget cuts and what they considered to be a weak response from the university over the massive $300 million cut to the entire pubic UW System. By going outside the normal channels of communication they achieved their goal.

The student’s arrived at the chancellor’s office in Chapman Hall and asked to speak to Chancellor Mone.

 

The secretary mentioned that the chancellor had just left the office for a meeting. The students stated that they’d take a seat until he came back. The secretary continued that Chancellor Mone would not be back in the office that day and that they’d have to make an appointment to speak to him.

The students sat down and said they’d wait.

A UWM security guard showed up.

 

After some time passed, the secretary asked the students what their demands were. One of the students read them aloud.

1. Publicly and Unequivocally Oppose the Proposed Budget as Harmful, Unnecessary, and Political in Nature.

2. Cut Administrative Positions and Salaries Before Cutting Academics and Student Services and Before Laying Off Faculty and Staff

As the students were reading their demands several UWM police officers enter the room.

The first officer in immediately told the students that they needed to leave. The students didn’t budge and repeated their desire to speak with Chancellor Mone directly. The officer left the room. As he was leaving a report came over his radio of “other students.” arriving. That’s when you could hear the chanting outside. The students sitting-in sprang up and rushed to the window to see fellow students rallying in support outside.

Next came in another university official arrived holding a piece of paper. He told the students that they would need to fill out the form in order to schedule a meeting with the chancellor. The students repeated their request to see the chancellor.

Next, a man in a university shirt walked in. He was pleasant and stated that he was the Dean of Students. He spoke with the students in a comfortable manner and asked them what he could do to remedy the situation. The student reiterated their desire to speak with Mone. After some more conversation, the Dean left.

Another 20 minutes later the Dean of Students returned. He said he had a possible solution. He stated that the students could head over to the Faculty Senate to speak with Mone and other faculty governance, who collectively agreed to hear the student out. The students huddled and discussed the dean’s proposal. They agreed to send a representative while the rest of them remained in the office.

After some time the student representative returned. He stated that the chancellor and faculty had listened to the students’ demands. He also stated that Chancellor Mone was willing to set up a future meeting to further discuss the demands.

The students left the office after two hours of sitting-in content that they had been heard and that a future opportunity existed for dialogue. They received a warm welcome from the support rally outside.

As the students were discussing their next steps, Chancellor Mone walked up.

Mone was respectful and gave the students time to speak. He stated that although he agreed the cuts were wrong for UWM, he could not support their demands. After some back and forth contact information was finally exchanged with Mone’s word to meet with student representatives soon.

 

All photos were taken by Joe Brusky.

 

One Year Later: A Celebration of Dontre Hamilton’s Life

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Milwaukee, WI - One year ago this past Thursday 14 shots forever changed Dontre Hamilton’s family and the city of Milwaukee. Much has happened since those fatal shots left Milwaukee police officer Christopher Manney’s gun. Since that day in April the Coalition for Justice has worked hard to highlight the injustices of a system that allows officers like Manney to go free. Though some progress has been made, on Thursday the Hamilton family made clear that much remains to be done.

The day started at 3:00 at the Center Street Library. MPD's liaison officers spoke to the Hamilton family before the march began. Earlier in the week, MPD was asking the family to get a permit for their march, which the Coalition was unwilling to do.

MPD’s liaison officers spoke to the Hamilton family at the Center Street Library before the march began. Earlier in the week, MPD had told the family they needed a permit for the march. The Coalition replied that Dontre’s blood was their permit. 

 

After a meeting with the MPD and a press conference the Coalition for Justice began the 3-mile march down Fond du Lac Avenue to Red Arrow Park, where Dontre was murdered a year ago.

After a press conference, the Coalition began the 3-mile march down Fond du Lac Avenue to Red Arrow Park, where Dontre was murdered a year ago.

 

This banner was made for the march and day of action in Dontre's name.

People poured their creative energy into artwork commemorating Dontre.

 

The Coalition received a lot of support along the route of the march, including this man who held up a solidarity fist the march and 15 bicycle cops went by.

The Coalition received a lot of support along the route of the march, including this man who raised a fist in solidarity as 15 bicycle cops went by.

 

 

Residents of this apartment complex shouted words of support and took photos from their windows.

Residents along the march route shouted words of support and took photos from their windows.

 

Another supporter comes out of a business along the march route.

Another local comes out of a business to lend his support to the marchers.

 

A marcher carrying a child throws holds his fist in the air along the way.

A marcher carrying a child holds his fist in the air along the way.

 

The Coalition for Justice continues to make calls for federal charges against fired officer Manney.

The Coalition for Justice continues to make calls for federal charges against Officer Manney.

 

Children playing on a playground stop playing games and ran to observe the march through a line of MPD.

Children on a playground ran to observe the march through a line of MPD officers.

 

The march stopped at several intersections along the way to chant and inform passersby of why they were marching.

At several intersections along the way, marchers paused to let passersby know what had happened a year before.

 

MPD bicycle cops rode in long lines on each side of the march the entire route.

MPD bicycle cops rode in long lines on each side of the march for the entire route.

 

After the 3-mile journey the march arrived at Red Arrow Park.

After the 3-mile journey the march arrived at Red Arrow Park.

 

A band was booked for the park and played throughout most of the night.

A talented group of musicians played throughout most of the night.

 

Signs were placed on the Starbucks where employees made calls on a sleeping Dontre Hamilton. The store was closed for the day.

Signs were placed on the Starbucks building from which the police were called because Dontre was sleeping in the adjoining park. The store was closed on the day of the march, as it often is when protests related to Dontre’s death are held.

 

 

A table was set up with stones to be painted with messages and placed at Dontre memorial made for the day.

Stones were painted with messages, and used to create a memorial for Dontre.

 

T-shirts with Dontre's likeness and Coalition for Justice logos were painted.

T-shirts with Dontre’s likeness and the Coalition for Justice logo were painted at the park.

 

Facepainting was available for children attending.

Volunteers painted children’s faces at the park.

 

The Hamilton family called for everyones attention. They laid down in the same spot Dontre was laying when he was approached by officer Manney. Nate hamilton asked the those watching if they thought he was doing anything that he deserved to die for doing.

At one point, the Hamilton family called for everyones attention, and laid down where Dontre was sleeping when he was approached by officer Manney. Nate Hamilton asked those watching if they thought his brother was doing anything he deserved to die for.

 

Nate Hamilton and his brother Dameion performed at times during the day singing a moving song they wrote together days after Dontre's death. The family also made sure to provide lots of uplifting entertainment, song, spoken word, and dance.

Nate Hamilton and his brother Dameion sang a song they wrote together days after Dontre’s death. The celebration of Dontre’s life included hours of uplifting entertainment, including song, spoken word, and dance.

 

In a powerful segment of the evening, blue balloons were passed out and a bell was tolled 14 times for each of the fatal bullets fired at Dontre.

In a powerful moment, blue balloons were passed out, and a bell was slowly tolled 14 times for each of the bullets that struck Dontre.

 

Once the bell was rang the family and it's many supporters released their balloons into the skies above Red Arrow.

After 14 rings of the bell, those present released their balloons into the skies above Red Arrow Park.

 

As night set in candles were passed out. Maria Hamilton made some final words thanking everyone for their support through thick tears.

As night set in, candles were passed out. Dontre’s mother, Maria Hamilton, thanked everyone for their support through thick tears.

 

Everyone listened intently to Maria Hamilton's words.

The crowd wears somber faces while listening to Maria Hamilton’s words.

 

As the candles were passed out and the balloons rose into the sky, the Overpass light Brigade began to pass out lights for the evening march.

As the balloons rose into the sky, the Overpass Light Brigade passed out lighted signs for the evening march.

 

A banner with DOntre's name on it was picked up by members of DOntre's family. Throughout the day the banner was signed by everyone in attendance.

A banner bearing Dontre’s name was held by members of his family. Throughout the day the banner had been signed by many of those in attendance.

 

Vigil goers placed their candles at the growing memorial set up for DOntre as they left the park, including Dontre's father.

Vigil goers, including Dontre’s father, placed their candles at the growing memorial for Dontre as they left the park.

 

The evening march makes it's way out of Red Arrow and into the streets.

The evening march made its way out of Red Arrow Park and into the streets.

 

The lead banners made their way across the street towards city hall.

The lead banners of the march made their way across the street towards City Hall.

Led by Nate Hamilton, the march went around city hall, where the Coalition has directed considerable pressure on city leaders to address issues affecting the underserved citizens of Milwaukee.

Led by Nate Hamilton, the march went around City Hall, where the Coalition has repeatedly engaged city leaders on issues affecting underserved residents.

 

As the march returned to Red Arrow the Overpass Light Brigade had a INDICT THE SYSTEM projection beaming on city hall for all to see.

As the march returned to Red Arrow Park, the Overpass Light Brigade beamed INDICT THE SYSTEM on City Hall.

 

Looking up at projection.

Marchers looked up at the projection.

 

The light brigade alternated between two different projections.

The light brigade alternated between two different projections (photo credit: Emilio De Torre).

 

Dontre Hamilton's mother, Maria looks up at the projection while holding flowers she was given.

Dontre Hamilton’s mother, Maria, gazes up at the projected message.

 

How many more mothers must face what Maria Hamilton has endured? Mothers for Justice is organizing a Mother’s Day action in Washington DC. Please join if you can, or donate for the trip here.

 

Mothers for Justice will be in Washington DC on Mother's Day weekend for an action demanding action on vigilante and police violence.

Mothers for Justice will be in Washington DC on Mother’s Day weekend to demand action on vigilante and police violence.

All photos (unless denoted) were taken by Joe Brusky of Overpass Light Brigade. Click here to view more photos from the day.

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.