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 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.
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.
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.
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.