Category Archives: Wisconsin

Milwaukee rallies for Trayvon Martin, demands justice for victims of Milwaukee Police Department


By Jacob Flom
March 29, 2012

Milwaukee protest demand justice for Trayvon Martin (Fight Back! News/Staff)

Milwaukee, WI – Students and community members rallied at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, March 29, to demand justice for Trayvon Martin. Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) organized the rally with the Black Student Union, AFSCME Local 82 and the support of Occupy the Hood Milwaukee and Occupy Milwaukee. 75 students marched silently across campus behind a banner that read “Justice for Trayvon.” When the march reached the student union they began chanting a call and response “Jail the killer, fire the cops! Without justice we won’t stop!”

Inside the student union, a crowd gathered to hear Brent Green of the Black Student Union speak about the now symbolic hoodie that Trayvon Martin was wearing when he was murdered. “Trayvon was killed wearing a hoodie. You wear a hoodie for warmth and safety,” he said, “Wanting to be safe is not a crime.”

SDS demanded that George Zimmerman be arrested for the murder of Trayvon Martin, but the rally also addressed the killing of Bo Morrison in Wisconsin, recent news of Milwaukee police department brutality in the community and the brutal murder of Iraqi immigrant Shaima Alawadi in her California home. Jameela Asmar from Students for Justice in Palestine linked the violent attacks on Black and Brown youth to the murder of Shaima Alawadi, committed by a racist anti-immigrant thug.

Bryan Pfeifer, representing Wisconsin Bailout the People Movement, spoke about the recent murder of a 20-year-old Black man, Bo Morrison, in Slinger, Wisconsin. The murder has received national attention for its parallels to the murder of Trayvon Martin. Bo Morrison fled an under-age drinking party and was his on a neighbor’s porch when the homeowner shot him. This week, hundreds of community members rallied in support of the Morrison family. At the time of the killing, the homeowner knew of the party next door, had already called the police, and knew police were in the area. According to his own testimony, the homeowner loaded his weapon and walked outside to confront Morrison on the porch. When Morrison stood up, the homeowner shot and killed him. “He executed my son,” said Bo Morrison’s mother, “this cannot happen to another kid.”

Brutality by Milwaukee Police

Community outrage is growing over allegations of brutality by the Milwaukee Police Department. This week, eight Milwaukee District 5 police were placed on “desk duty” for illegally strip-searching, cavity-searching and sexually assaulting neighborhood residents in public. One of the victims, a 22-year old woman, said the police illegally strip searched her “at least three times,” adding that they even searched her vagina and anus in public, without consent. The police department started an internal investigation into the sexual assault after piling up years of allegations, as well as a recent lawsuit.

One of the police under investigation for that crime is District 5 Supervisor Sergeant Jason Mucha. In 2011, Sgt. Mucha crashed his squad car into another driver. He then accused the other driver of possession and crashing into the police vehicle. That case was dismissed in court after video evidence contradicted Sgt. Mucha’s testimony. The court found that Sgt. Mucha wrongfully searched the driver’s car, but did not punish the officer. Sgt. Mucha has also been investigated for police brutality and planting drugs on search victims, but was never punished by the department’s internal investigations. Now he is once again the subject of an internal investigation by the same department. But this time, community members are demanding an independent civilian review board.

More allegations of brutality were raised against Milwaukee Police District 5 after the death of a 22-year old Black man, Derek Williams, in the back of a squad car. The case recently resurfaced after new evidence revealed there was a broken bone in his neck when he died in custody on July 6, 2011. Police claim Williams died from a “sickle cell crisis” although Williams did not have sickle cell anemia disease and therefore could not have suffered a sickle cell crisis, according to doctors at the National Institutes of Health. Williams begged for help as he was handcuffed and shackled in the back of the squad car. Police failed to call for an ambulance and Williams died in the back of the squad car. His family has filed a lawsuit against the department.

Police brutality is nothing recent for residents of Milwaukee. This month, after a long public battle, the Milwaukee Police Department finally paid police brutality victim Frank Jude $2 million for a beating by Milwaukee police that nearly killed him in 2004. After celebrating that hard-won victory, community organizations are demanding justice for other victims of the Milwaukee Police Department.

Milwaukee organizations are mobilizing for a mass march on April 10, at 4:00 p.m. at the statue of Martin Luther King on MLK Drive. The rally is in correlation with George Zimmerman, Trayvon Martin’s killer, first day before a Florida grand jury.



Menominee seventh grader suspended for saying “I Love You” in her Native language


February 3, 2012

Miranda Washinawatok Menominee

SHAWANO, WISCONSIN – What’s love got to do with it? Not much, especially if you say the words “I love you” in the Menominee language in front of a certain Wisconsin teacher.

Seventh grader Miranda Washinawatok, Menominee, found this out.

Miranda speaks two languages: Menominee and English. She also plays on her basketball team. However, two Thursdays ago she was suspended for one basketball game because she spoke Menominee to a fellow classmate during class.

Miranda attends Sacred Heart Catholic Academy in Shawano, Wisconsin. The school body is over 60 percent American Indian. The school is approximately six miles from the south border of the Menominee Indian Tribe Reservation.

“On January 19 I was told by Miranda she was being benched from playing that night. I found out at 4:20 and we were back at school at 6:30 pm so I could get to the bottom of why she could not play,” said Tanaes Washinawatok, Miranda’s mother.

“Miranda kept saying she was only told by her assistant coach she was being benched because two teachers said she had a bad attitude. I wanted to know what she did to make them say she had a bad attitude.”

At the school, the teachers and coaching staff seemed to want to cast blame on each other, according to Miranda’s mother.

“I wanted to talk to the principal, but he was not there before the game started,” stated Tanaes Washinawatok. Being a persistent concerned parent, Washinawatok was back at the school by 7:30 the next morning to speak to the principal.

The principal told Washinawatok that the assistant coach told him she was told by two teachers to bench Miranda for attitude problems.

The alleged ‘attitude problem’ turned out to be that Miranda said the Menominee word

that means

and said


in Menominee that means “I love you.”

Miranda and a fellow classmate were talking to each other when Miranda told her how to say “Hello” and “I love you” in Menominee.

“The teacher went back to where the two were sitting and literally slammed her hand down on the desk and said, “How do I know you are not saying something bad?”

The story did not end there. In the next session, another teacher told Miranda she did not appreciate her getting the other teacher upset because “she is like a daughter to me.”

By the time, Miranda was picked up by her mother she was upset for being suspended.

“Miranda knows quite a bit of the Menominee language. We speak it. My mother, Karen Washinawatok, is the director of the Language and Culture Commission of the Menominee Tribe. She has a degree in linguistics from the University of Arizona’s College of Education-AILDI American Indian Language Development Institute. She is a former tribal chair and is strong into our culture,” states Tanaes Washinawatok.

Washinawatok has had a total of three meetings with school officials and was promised Miranda would receive a public apology, as would the Menominee Tribe, and the apologies would be publically placed.

“On Wednesday, a letter was sent to parents and guardians. A real generic letter of apology, that really did not go into specifics as to why there was this apology,” Washinawatok told the Native News Network Thursday evening.

“I still don’t think it was enough.”

Sacred Heart Catholic Academy is operated by the Diocese of Green Bay, which ironically has an option on its answering machine for Spanish, but not Menominee. A call put in late Thursday afternoon by the Native News Network was not returned by press time.


SDS holds National Convention, student movement growing


By Chris Getowicz
November 16, 2011

Participants in SDS National Convention (Fight Back! News/Staff)

Milwaukee, WI – Students gathered over the weekend of Nov. 12 for the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) 6th annual National Convention at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee. Over 150 students from across the country gathered to participate in workshops, share organizing skills, and exchange experiences about campaigns and strategies practiced on their respective campuses. For over half the students in attendance, this was their first SDS convention.

The host chapter, UW-Milwaukee SDS, led a walkout of over 4000 students in the spring of 2011 during the famous occupation of the Wisconsin State Capitol to protest Governor Walker’s anti-union, anti-education and anti-people attacks.

On the campuses, there is an awakening of consciousness and opposition to the corrupt and oppressive economic system and to institutional racism, sexism and homophobia. SDS has risen nationally by building opposition to cuts to education as well as opposition to FBI raids against activists and the wars and occupations abroad. As students respond to the Occupy Wall Street movement, SDS has celebrated new chapters and chapter growth across the country.

SDS chapters traveled from Oklahoma; Milwaukee and Stephens Point, Wisconsin; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Rutgers and Montclair University in New Jersey; UIC and Wright College in Chicago; Charlotte and Ashville, North Carolina; Gainesville, Tampa and Tallahassee, Florida and many other places.

Students participated in a variety of workshops and breakout sessions that provided space for education, skill sharing and constructive criticisms. Workshops included “Capitalism 101 for the 99%,” “Sexual and Gender Liberation,” “Coalition and Movement Building” and “Immigrant Rights.”

In the plenary, students discussed and voted on proposals to fight FBI repression, organize against racism and national oppression and to protest the Democrat National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina. SDS is looking forward to joining protests at the NATO/G8 Summit in Chicago and they endorsed the Coalition to March on the Republican National Convention 2012 in Tampa, Florida. There are plans being made for a student day of action in the spring of 2012.

“All of the students who attended the conference are now deputized fighters in the struggle for higher education. The politicians and administrators who tell us to cut back are already organized. This weekend, students organized themselves to fight back together,” said Dave Schneider of University of Florida – Gainesville’s SDS.

SDS was honored to host speakers Carlos Montes and Stephanie Weiner, who were recently hit by FBI repression. Montes, a founding member of the Brown Berets, founder of Latinos Against War and a national organizer during the 2008 RNC is facing trumped up felony charges from a coordinated FBI and Los Angeles County sheriff raid. Weiner is a Chicago-based activist who organizes with the Palestine Solidarity Group, is an active member of AFSCME 3506 and is an advisor to SDS at Wright College in Chicago who was raided last September by the FBI and is subject to an ongoing grand jury investigation in Chicago. SDS has stood in solidarity with both throughout the last year and participated in national call-ins and days of action in solidarity with these activists and others who have been the subject of FBI attacks.

Kait McCintyre of University of Illinois-Chicago SDS said of the convention, “Overall, the convention illustrated the vitality of the student movement and we are excited to rise in these radical times.”

SDS is a multi-issue national student organization with chapters around the United States and can be found at or contacted at


Occupy the Hood, Occupy Milwaukee on the march


October 31, 2011

Milwaukee, WI- Occupy Milwaukee held a second march, Oct. 29, joining with Occupy the Hood. 400 people marched from Lincoln Park down a busy street, ending at a closed-down auto factory. Milwaukee’s north side is predominately African-American and is one of the hardest hit areas in the country. Speakers from the labor, anti-racist and peace movements decried the 1% for de-unionization, foreclosures, job loss, wars and military spending, deportations and Wisconsin Senate Bill 207 – a bill aimed to further disenfranchise felons.

“This demonstration was important for Occupy the Hood Milwaukee, Occupy Milwaukee, and really Occupy Wall Street,” commented Occupy marcher Alicia Skeeter. “This is an all people’s movement and the diversity present yesterday is truly a testimony to how much of a crisis we are in.”

Occupy the Hood encourages people to attend a People’s Hearing about SB 207 this Wednesday, Nov. 2, at 6:00 p.m. at the Amalgamated Transit Union Hall in Milwaukee.


Milwaukee’s Occupy the Hood says kill the SB207/AB286 bill


By Chance Zombor
October 25, 2011

State government here is considering a bill, SB207/AB286, that will permanently economically disenfranchise over 62,000 Wisconsinites who have been convicted of felonies. The bill makes it legal for employers to discriminate against them, not only in the hiring process, but also to terminate them from jobs where they are already employed whether or not their felony conviction is substantially related to the job. It would also ban cities and municipalities from creating laws to protect constituents from this type of discrimination. The bill has already passed the Assembly and is on its way to becoming law.

Occupy the Hood, Milwaukee, is responding with a campaign designed to kill the bill. The following are videos from a community meeting and press conference with organizers and activists in Milwaukee, along with testimony from a public hearing in Madison:


Thousands Protest at Occupy Milwaukee


By Mike Gold
October 15, 2011

SDS marching at Occupy Milwaukee. (Fight Back! News/Jacob Flom)

Milwaukee, WI – More than 3000 people marched here, Oct. 15, as a part of the Occupy movement, which began about a month ago on Wall Street in New York. At 11:00 a.m. in Milwaukee’s Zeidler Park, protesters gathered to stand against continuing cuts to education and public services carried out by Governor Scott Walker and to stand against rampant corruption in the powerful financial sector.

After gathering at the park for about an hour, protesters marched toward the Chase Bank building for a rally. The protest consisted of a diverse group of Milwaukee residents, from union workers, to undocumented workers, to students, and many more.

Milwaukee Students for a Democratic Society led a student contingent consisting of about 20 people. Students carried about four large banners and led chants, such as “When workers’ rights are under attack, what do we do? Stand up, fight back!” and “Money for jobs, not for war!” which were well-received by people surrounding the contingent. SDS member Chelsea Ottery summed up the importance of the Occupy movement for her, “By unifying the voices of people from the lower and middle classes, we can create a movement dedicated to positive change for the average person and hold Wall Street and the American government accountable.”

Once the rally concluded, the protesters marched back to Zeidler Park, where they began preparations for an occupation. Protesters have set up a first aid tent as well as a tent for food and are getting themselves organized as a larger group. This is a continuation of large general assemblies that organized the action from the beginning. Most people are planning to stay at least until the park closes and some have made clear their intentions to stay the night at Zeidler.

Police presence during the march was heavy, but did not interfere with the action. The Chase Bank building, which was the target of the march, was closed to the public for 24 hours before to the protest and had police surrounding it. Police presence back at the park was fairly light, but it is unclear what will happen if protesters refuse to leave after the park closes at 10:00 p.m.

SDS National Organizer Kas Schwerdtfeger said of the overnight occupation, “We aren’t really sure what they [the police] are going to do, but if we can get enough people, we are planning to try to stay the night.”


19 arrested for demanding jobs


Occupy Milwaukee begins Oct. 15

October 13, 2011

Police arrest protester at U.S. Senator Ron Johnson’s office. (Fight Back! News/Staff)

Milwaukee, WI – About 75 protesters rallied outside of U.S. Senator Ron Johnson’s office at the Federal Courthouse here. Riot police swarmed inside and outside of the building, refusing to allow the activists to meet their representative. 19 activists who entered the building refused to leave until they were allowed a meeting with Johnson; instead they were arrested, loaded into paddy wagons and hauled off to the first precinct. Each of the demonstrators arrested was issued a $171 ticket for trespassing and released.

Tony Marley, a Milwaukee resident who was arrested at the demonstration, said, “The voice of the people will no longer be ignored. We are the 99%. We have power and we will be heard. We can no longer stand by and watch our government side with the 1% that owns most of the capital. We need jobs and we’re willing to go to any lengths to get them. I would gladly get arrested again.”

Senator Johnson is a multi-millionaire businessman who called the American Jobs Act, “the definition of insanity.” During his 2010 election campaign he infamously referred to Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged as his “foundational book.” Staying true to his foundations, Johnson shamelessly sides with the interests of the billionaires and millionaires like himself, placing profits over people.

On Oct. 15, Milwaukee activists are planning to launch Occupy Milwaukee with a massive protest in the heart of the financial district, just three blocks from Johnson’s office. The event is being organized in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street and will demand an end to the crimes of Wall Street and the top 1% ruling class. The protest will begin at 12:30 outside JP Morgan Chase Bank on the corner of Water Street and Wisconsin Avenue.


Milwaukee rallies against 10 years of occupation in Afghanistan


October 12, 2011

Milwaukee rally against occupation of Afghanistan (Fight Back! News/Staff)

Milwaukee, WI – On Oct. 8, over 100 people rallied and marched against the continuing U.S./NATO occupation of Afghanistan. The event was organized to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, which began in October of 2001.

The rally was followed by a large march to City Hall, where community members spoke before the crowd inside. Attendees included Milwaukee Alderman Nik Kovac, union workers and community organizations including the L.U.V. Brigade, Milwaukee Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), Peace Action-Wisconsin, Veterans for Peace, U.S. Labor Against the War and others represented by the Milwaukee Coalition for a Just Peace.

Khalil Coleman of the L.U.V. Brigade said of the day’s events, “We have to start looking at poverty at home and poverty in foreign countries in a different light. If we can take money that is being used to fund violence in Libya and to oppress people in Afghanistan and bring it back to the communities here in the U.S., we can help to build a better world.”

Danielle Meyer, an organizer for the upcoming Occupy Milwaukee protests, said, “We’re out here today because military spending on wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is wasteful and is going to kill innocent people. We want to see funding come back for human needs here in Milwaukee, as well as the rest of the country.” Milwaukee is often listed as the most segregated city in the United States with the fourth highest level of poverty.

Solidarity was also expressed for those anti-war activists persecuted by the FBI. Jhosellin Perez, speaking for the Milwaukee Activist Defense Network, urged those present to visit and sign the Pledge to Resist there, as well as to keep active in opposing government repression of anti-war activists.