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Milwaukee: Fire and Police Commission bend to police, suspend policy on release of video footage during Republican National Convention in July 2024

Statement by staff |
May 21, 2023
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No to planned repression during the RNC 2024

Fight Back News Service is circulating the following statement by the Coalition to March on the RNC 2024.

A fight is underway in Milwaukee over Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) 575, which forces the police to release video of police crimes in a timely manner. This is a policy won after two years of dedicated organizing by the Milwaukee Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, a coalition partner, and affected Milwaukee families. The SOP is already under attack by the Milwaukee Police Association (MPA) and Wisconsin GOP leaders in Madison, but now the Fire and Police Commission (FPC) has voted as of Thursday, May 18, on a resolution to suspend it for the duration of the upcoming Republican National Convention in July 2024.

The Coalition to March on the RNC 2024 will be hosting a press conference on Monday, May 22 at 12 p.m. outside Milwaukee City Hall to denounce the FPC decision and to call for its immediate reversal.

“It’s clear through this decision that the police plan on suppressing dissent during the week of the RNC. What is it that MPD and the 4000 law enforcement officers have planned for protestors? We are hosting a family friendly march,” said Aurelia Ceja, a co-chair of the coalition. “The police don’t like being forced to show video of their repressive behavior and crimes. From the uprisings in Kenosha and Wauwatosa, many organizers in the coalition have seen first hand the viciousness that police are capable of when there aren’t public eyes on them.”

“This resolution was drafted during closed door meetings with MPD, and without input from the public. When the time came for public input, the FPC rearranged public comment on the agenda so it came after the vote,” said Omar Flores, the other co-chair of the coalition. “The FPC promotes itself as a body that holds police accountable. Letting the police draft resolutions behind closed doors with no public input is not in line with their purpose.”

"Civil liberties shouldn't be suspended during the RNC. Why do the Republicans and their police foot soldiers get special treatment? We’re demanding that the FPC immediately remove this resolution to suspend Milwaukee’s access to footage of police crimes,” said Tom Burke, a national spokesperson for the coalition. “Despite these obvious early attempts by Mayor Johnson, the police, and the Republican Party to intimidate organizers, we will lead a march on the first day of the convention within sight and sound of the RNC at the Wisconsin Center. We will not back down; we will be seen and we will be heard.”

The struggle for greater community control over the activities of unrestrained police departments has intensified in the three years since the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. Pivotal fights are being waged in places like Chicago, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Nashville, and Milwaukee that directly challenge the police over issues of transparency, accountability, and more democratic control by the people over the terms under which they are policed.

There is a coordinated campaign nationally among Republicans to overturn gains made in this struggle, and to further criminalize dissent in general, a fact made plain by the trumped up charges students and other activists are facing in the Tampa 5 case in Florida. The Coalition to March on the RNC 2024 calls on all progressive forces to join us as we build for a mass demonstration against the Republicans on July 15, 2024.

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