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Protesters demand justice for Derek Williams

By Babette Grunow |
September 30, 2012
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Milwaukee protest demands justice for Derek Williams.
Milwaukee protest demands justice for Derek Williams. (Fight Back! News/Staff)

Milwaukee, WI - 50 people chanted "Hey, hey, ho, ho, Chief Flynn has got to go!" outside the Third District Police station on 49th Street and Lisbon in Milwaukee, Sept. 28, during rush hour. They were protesting the death of Derek Williams while in police custody .

Williams' death in July 2011 was originally ruled as due to natural causes. The medical examiner had to re-examine the case following an expose in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. After reviewing the video tapes from the police squad that show Williams begging for help as he suffocated over an eight minute period, the examiner changed his ruling to homicide. Since the tapes were made public, calls have grown for an independent investigation and for justice for Derek Williams. On Sept. 27, over 400 people gathered at the Milwaukee Brotherhood of Firefighters hall to console the Williams family and to call for justice.

At the Sept. 28 protest, Brian Verdin reiterated the demand for the resignation of Police Chief Flynn, District Attorney Chisholm and the police lieutenant (not named) who saw the tape last year and did nothing. A group of the protesters walked out into the traffic along the crosswalk on North Avenue with signs demanding justice for Derek Williams while others gathered in front of the police station or distributed leaflets about upcoming protests. After about two minutes they cleared the crosswalk and let the traffic pass. Many drivers honked in support. Channel 4 went live at 6:00 p.m. or so. Channel 12 followed the protesting crowd as it took a walk around several blocks of the neighborhood calling for the neighbors to join them. Channel 6 also covered the protest.

Occupy Milwaukee members joined the protesters, who ranged in age from 2 to 85 years. Lucille Berien,a long time activist, said that this case reminded her of other cases, like Ernest Lacey, who died in similar circumstances roughly 30 years ago. She added, "Things need to change."

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