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Occupy Milwaukee demands ‘jobs now!’

Published Nov 2, 2011 9:31 PM

Hundreds marched in Milwaukee on Oct. 29 demanding jobs, an end to foreclosures and for schools, not jails and war. Another major demand was that the Wisconsin Legislature kill bills now in committee that, along with other racist, anti-worker provisions, would make it legal for companies to fire convicted felons. The bill would essentially make felons indentured servants of big business.

Milwaukee, Oct. 29.
WW photo: Bryan G. Pfeifer

Sponsored by Occupy Milwaukee and Occupy The Hood, an African-American group, the Oct. 29 march kicked off after a fiery rally at Lincoln Park in the north side of Milwaukee, a predominantly African-American community. Protesters then marched more than two miles to the abandoned A.O. Smith manufacturing plant, which used to employ thousands of union workers in Milwaukee, many of them African-American. The closing of the plant has devastated the community.

The multinational, intergenerational crowd, including many African-American youth, marched through the heart of Milwaukee’s African-American community chanting and carrying signs and banners such as “Jobs, not police terror” and “Jobs now — make the banks pay.” They received a rousing response, with many coming out of their homes and businesses to join the march.

Once at A.O. Smith, African-American, Latino/a and white students and workers conducted a speakout as hundreds sat down in the street in front of the plant. Numerous organizations joined the activities, including the immigrant rights group Voces de la Frontera, Milwaukee Inner City Congregations Allied For Hope, Peace Action, 9 to 5 Working Women, Students For a Democratic Society, the Wisconsin Bail Out the People Movement, the L.U.V. Brigade, the Latin American Solidarity Committee, Freedom Road Socialist Organization and Workers World Party. Workers represented many unions, including the American Federation of Teachers, the Service Employees, the Teamsters, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the National Education Association and more.

Occupy Wall Street actions are happening across Wisconsin. In Appleton, an Oct. 30 march to protest the police attack on Occupy Oakland participant Scott Olsen, who is from Wisconsin, took place. Occupy Appleton will kick off its 24/7 occupation on Nov. 4.

Occupy Madison is sponsoring ongoing rallies and other events at the state Capitol and at other locations. Occupy LaCrosse, Occupy Eau Claire, Occupy Green Bay and Occupy Sheboygan are also sponsoring events.

Occupy The Hood and Occupy Milwaukee are teaming up to defeat the slave labor bill in the Wisconsin Legislature with a series of actions the week of Oct. 30. Despite ongoing police harassment, Occupy Milwaukee continues its occupation of Garden Park in the Riverwest neighborhood of Milwaukee, sponsoring various events and holding regular general assemblies.

For updates and information: www.wibailoutpeople.org.