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 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.