Milwaukee, WI – On September 24, the Milwaukee Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression confronted the Milwaukee Police Department at the third of 15 community listening sessions. As with the first two sessions, the third had abysmal attendance.
There were only two community members attending, joined by activists of the Milwaukee Alliance. Most of the room was police officers in uniform, staffers and officials of Community Collaborative Commission (CCC), Fire and Police Commission (FPC), and Mayers Strategic Solutions, LLC.
Given that this session was held in the city’s South Side, with significant Chicano, Puerto Rican and Central American people, the police department provided a Spanish-speaking interpreter. Her skills ended up not being needed. To her credit, the interpreter did bring up the lack of community presence, pointedly asking the officials responsible if they “did any community outreach?”
After official explanations, Alan Chavoya, the outreach chair for the Milwaukee Alliance responded, “After speaking with community members about these sessions, they immediately become hesitant to attend when they hear there is an overwhelming police presence.”
Chavoya stated, “After the initial three sessions, it’s inconceivable that any honest community input will actually be factored into the standard operating procedure that is to come out of this process. The Milwaukee Alliance will continue to attend the sessions and push against the police presence.”
“If the organizers of this initiative are serious about having community input, they have to meet the people of Milwaukee where they are at, and they are currently at a place where they, for obvious reasons, have little to no trust in the police,” Chavoya explained.
Chavoya raised the volume, “We demand the next sessions have no police presence. Otherwise, the next 12 sessions will provide similar turnout. Rooms filled with cops and no community members. If that’s the community input that will factor into this SOP, we all know that policing in Milwaukee won’t change. The people of Milwaukee demand more transparency and accountability. This is what the Milwaukee Alliance continues to fight for.”
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