By Jacob Flom
March 29, 2012
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.