‘Black lives matter’ to Wisconsin activists vs police terror

Madison, Wis., Dec. 27. WW photo

Madison, Wis., Dec. 27.
WW photo

Milwaukee and Madison, Wis. — The youth-led fightback against racist police terror and Wall Street austerity continues to escalate in Wisconsin.

Immediately following the Milwaukee County district attorney’s Dec. 22 announcement not to indict Christopher Manney, the cop that murdered Dontre Hamilton, protests organized by the Coalition For Justice and supported by numerous allies took place in Milwaukee with hundreds hitting the streets in other locations.

Protesters led a die-in of about 100 people at the Mayfair Mall in Wauwatosa, Wis., on Dec. 23 and a protest of hundreds at Red Arrow Park in Milwaukee — the site where Dontre Hamilton was killed — followed by a militant march in downtown Milwaukee.

“Occupy the Hood Milwaukee” held a Dec. 27 community protest in the heart of the Black community to demand an end to police terror, for living wage jobs and other demands.

Protest actions continued throughout the holiday season.  Two of these included a press conference at the 5th District police headquarters to demand that police and other repressive state agents stop “investigating” labor and community activists and a counterprotest at a pro-cop rally in Wauwatosa.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson of the Rainbow Push Coalition in Chicago joined the Hamilton family for a Jan. 2 press conference at the Federal Courthouse in Milwaukee. They announced that the U.S. Department of Justice will review the Hamilton case to determine whether federal civil rights laws were violated, an effort supported by Jackson and the Hamilton family.

“We are the leaders of the new civil rights movement,” said Nate Hamilton, Dontre’s brother, at the press conference. “We are the beginning. We will continue to fight. We will continue to stand up.”

‘We have nothing to lose but our chains…’

Over a hundred protesters marched on the East Towne Mall in Madison and participated in a 16-and-a-half minute die-in occupation at the mall’s food court on Dec. 27. The time denoted how long it took the police to choke to death Eric Garner in Staten Island, N.Y.

The action was sponsored by the Young, Gifted and Black Coalition in Madison and supported by numerous labor-community organizations including the revolutionary youth group “Fight Imperialism, Stand Together” or FIST, the Wisconsin Bail Out The People Movement and Veterans For Peace. Members of Workers World Party from Chicago; Detroit; Milwaukee; Janesville, Wis.; and Rockford, Ill., participated.

The multinational protesters of all ages marched in the streets adjacent to the East Towne Mall and repeatedly stopped traffic at multiple locations along busy Highway 151. Then protesters marched into the mall chanting various slogans, including “Michael Brown! Michael Brown! Shut it down! Shut it down!” and “Black lives matter!”

Numerous workers and shoppers — Black, Brown, Asian and white — expressed their solidarity with the anti-police terror protesters, who also demanded that living-wage jobs should be brought to the Black community, not another planned jail for the city.

Wisconsin has one of the highest incarceration rates for people of African descent in the United States. Other demands included justice for Dontre Hamilton and for others murdered by the police.

“You can’t have capitalism without racism. Many businesses in this mall underpay their employees. Many businesses in this mall use prison labor. This mall is symbolic with what is wrong with America, with capitalism. This is about the right to live, to love, to be creative. People, it’s time to wake up. All power to the people!” said Brandi Grayson of the Young Gifted and Black Coalition during a speakout in the food court after the die-in.

The protest concluded with a quote from Assata Shakur that ends with the words “We have nothing to lose but our chains.”

The Young Gifted and Black Coalition joined protesters Jan. 2 in Milwaukee to support the Hamilton family and to build statewide solidarity in the fight against police terror and austerity.

Numerous future protests in Madison, Milwaukee and elsewhere are in the planning stages.

The Young, Gifted and Black Coalition has weekly protests. Go to facebook.com/fergusontomadison

For more information on how to join the fight against police terror in Wisconsin: go to facebook.com/justicefordontre and wibailoutpeople.org.