Billboards scream for justice for Derek Williams

In response to the police murder of Derek Williams, 43 billboards asking, “When police kill, where is the mayor?” went up on Oct. 8 throughout Milwaukee. The billboards were paid for by Michael M. Bell, the father of Michael E. Bell, who was killed by Kenosha police in 2004. Bell paid for the ads with settlement funds he won from the city of Kenosha.

Bell announced the billboards at a community meeting Oct. 7 at Coffee Makes You Black in Milwaukee. This meeting, one of a series of protest actions in recent weeks, demanded justice for Derek Williams and his family.

Williams, an African-American man, was murdered by the Milwaukee police in July 2011. A police video, published Sept. 23 on the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel website, shows in horrifying detail how Williams, handcuffed and fighting to breath in the back of a Milwaukee police car, was left to die after he passed out. The newspaper fought for 10 months to obtain the video — which the police, district attorney and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett all had access to — through an open records request. Due to community pressure, the Milwaukee County medical examiner’s office changed its ruling of William’s death from natural to homicide in September.

Various forms of ongoing protests, led and supported by various organizations in the African-American community, are demanding that racist Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn resign immediately; that a federal investigation be conducted; and that a community police review board be enacted, among other demands.

On Oct. 13, a Hoodie March MKE will begin at Gordan Park (East Locust and North Humboldt) in Milwaukee to demand justice for Williams and all victims of police terror and to protest the police occupation of oppressed communities. For more info, visit

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