Milwaukee, WI - Protesters in Milwaukee occupied a bridge here, Nov. 17, as similar actions took place across the country. Roughly 200 people gathered in Carver Park in a working-class Milwaukee neighborhood, then marched to the Highway 43 bridge, where they met with about 100 other protesters intent on civil disobedience.
Those one-hundred sat down on a large tarp on the bridge, with the remaining protesters surrounding them, for about three hours. The protests across the country were intended to highlight the fight for jobs, arguing that people could be put to work fixing our nation’s crumbling bridges.
The rally at Carver Park only lasted for about 15 minutes, but included speeches from several community members, including local politician Ian Biddle, who said of the people on Wall Street, “They don’t care about us, they don’t care about black people, or Hispanic people, or poor people. . . we will not be divided between black and white.” Then protesters marched to the bridge, chanting “We are the 99%!”
When they arrived at the bridge, another speaker addressed the crowd, saying “We won’t tolerate one more cut or one more corporate giveaway.” Protesters then surrounded the taped-off civil disobedience zone, forming a barrier between those performing civil disobedience and the police. Organizers of the march set up tents and distributed water and hand warmers.
As time went on, the police constructed a one-way barrier through which people could leave, but could not re-enter. Arrest seemed imminent as the police surrounded the occupied bridge. Protesters began new chants, such as “We are unstoppable, another world is possible,” and “Walker, let’s face it, your budget cuts are racist,” in reference to Wisconsin’s right-wing governor Scott Walker.
Chief Ed Flynn of the Milwaukee Police Department announced to the media that their blockade would stay up. No one could bring in food, but that the occupiers would be allowed to stay the night on the bridge if they wished. Occupiers held a meeting and decided to march to the MICAH building nearby. The MICAH building is the headquarters of a local inner-city faith activist group. Despite warnings from the police, protesters took the streets and marched all the way to the building, where they were greeted with applause.
University of Wisconsin Student and Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) member Eddie Chapman said of the action, “It was a success, we won...this was the most inspiring and radical action I’ve ever been a part of.” Chapman was one of sixteen arrested on the March 4, 2010 National Day of Action for Education Rights.