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Milwaukee Alliance, Youth Rising Up answer the call to demand community control of police

By staff |
June 13, 2020
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Milwaukee joins National Day of Protest against police crimes.
Milwaukee joins National Day of Protest against police crimes. (Fight Back! News/Staff)

Milwaukee, WI - At noon on June 13, the Milwaukee Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression joined with Youth Rising Up (YRU), a student organization from North Division High School in Milwaukee’s notorious 53206 zip code, to host a march and rally. The demonstration was in response to the National Alliance’s call for a day of action around community control of the police and justice for victims of police killing.

Around 100 people turned out despite the unseasonably chilly weather, including members of the Black Caucus of Teamsters Local 200. Marchers were tailed by a caravan consisting of over a dozen cars.

The action started with a march from just outside of the Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory to the middle of the 16th Street bridge, a historic marker of Milwaukee’s struggle for civil rights in the 1960s. The march came to a pause there as people shut down traffic on the bridge from both directions. They formed a circle as a few people prepared to give comments.

Speakers included Lauryn Cross of the Milwaukee Alliance, a couple students from YRU, and Taleavia Cole, the sister of a 17-year-old African American shot and killed by Officer Joseph Mensah.

Members of YRU spoke first, highlighting a situation that saw them confront the reality of police crimes directly. One night last week, when the largest protests were stretching late into the night and the police and National Guard were out enforcing curfews, they had stopped for gas. Immediately they were hounded by police officers and violent threats.

They were told if they moved that they would be hurt. One of them raised their hands and said, “Black lives matter.” This was enough to trigger the police into attacking. Using their batons, the police battered one young woman’s face and fractured a rib of another woman. The experience was clearly traumatizing, as it was hard for her to share it. It is a clear indication that police feel free to act however they please because they face no accountability for their crimes.

After that, Lauryn Cross of the Milwaukee Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression spoke on the significance of demanding justice for “Thee 3” (Alvin Cole, Jay Anderson, Jr. and Antonio Gonzales) as well as for Joel Acevedo, murdered by an off-duty cop in Milwaukee on April 19. In the cases of Cole, Anderson and Gonzales, their deaths are all the responsibility of one officer: Joseph Anthony Mensah of the Wauwatosa Police Department.

“The Milwaukee Alliance joins with the Cole family in calling for the immediate firing of Officer Mensah, followed by his arrest, indictment and conviction,” said Cross.

She also talked about community control of the police and how now is the time for Milwaukee to discard the ineffective Fire & Police Commission in favor of a Civilian Police Accountability Council, or CPAC.

Taleavia Cole spoke on the situation with her brother Alvin, a case that many in Milwaukee are unaware of due to the news cycle being dominated by COVID coverage shortly after his killing on February 2. In addition to the outbreak of the pandemic, the family had been instructed to remain silent, and little information about the case was coming from either the Milwaukee Police Department, which has been tasked with the investigation, or the Wauwatosa Police Department themselves.

The family, and Alvin’s sister in particular, are done being silent. They have joined with several of the protests over the last week to bring attention to their fight. The Milwaukee Alliance has partnered with the family on several actions thus far and intends to continue their work with them until justice is won.

After hearing these speeches, the march continued across the bridge and eventually found its way to City Hall. Cross made some final comments about the need to build the Milwaukee Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression as a tool to advance the demands for justice and community control. While she spoke, marchers took to chalking the ground immediately outside the entrance to City Hall with slogans like “CPAC now”, “Black lives matter” and “Justice for victims of police crimes.”