Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service
Op Ed

We Don’t Need the National Guard

We need our elected leaders to dismantle racist practices.

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Protests and marches have taken place throughout Milwaukee in response to George Floyd’s death, as well as slayings of black men by local police. Photo by Allison Dikanovic/NNS.

Protests and marches have taken place throughout Milwaukee in response to George Floyd’s death, as well as slayings of black men by local police. Photo by Allison Dikanovic/NNS.

Over the weekend, Gov. Tony Evers signed an executive order to bring in 125 National Guard personnel into Milwaukee to protect “critical infrastructure and cultural sites” following protests. We understand this was requested by our local Milwaukee leadership: Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley, Milwaukee Police Chief Alfonso Morales, and Milwaukee County Sheriff Earnell Lucas.

Let’s make one thing clear: Our leadership in Wisconsin is reacting to black pain by calling more police on us.

Our national, state, city and school leaders continue to enforce white supremacy by throwing their full weight and resources into threatening, policing and killing us instead of toward the actual issues we’re asking them to fix. Any statement from our elected leaders right now that isn’t calling for divesting from the police and military is perpetuating white supremacy by distracting from and devaluing black lives.

For centuries we’ve experienced white supremacy and witnessed the murder of black people at the hands of white cops, slave owners and racist institutions. This country’s history is written in black people’s blood. We know this history and we stand on the shoulders of our ancestry in saying we’ve had enough. Protests in Milwaukee and across the country are disrupting the status quo right now to demand urgent attention.

Today our state, county and city executive leadership demonstrated a decision to ignore the pain and trauma black people are facing. We are hurt, we are tired, and we are demanding change. Calling in the National Guard to police us instead of fixing the issues we’re demanding is perpetuating white supremacy.

We are indeed in a state of emergency that needs our leadership’s commitment to no longer follow the status quo that got us to this point. Racism is an urgent crisis and black people are dying daily — disproportionately at the hands of police, disproportionately from COVID-19, disproportionately from lead poisoning, disproportionately by chronic poverty from systemic neglect, disproportionately from every health condition you can count from racism in every institution. Yet our reaction to the daily death and dying of our people is met with constant occupation and policing. MPD already has military-grade vehicles and weapons. They are on our streets daily. We do not need more militarization. Governor Tony Evers, Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett continue to ignore our demands and instead are doubling down on the problem.

There’s an easy way to stop this. Listen to what our black and brown leaders are saying. Do your job to represent us. Stop killing us. When black people are murdered, arrest their murderers. Remove racist police from our schools, neighborhoods, and communities. Invest in our neighborhoods and our lives so we can thrive. Leaders Igniting Transformation has been organizing young people to remove police from schools, neighborhoods and our city for years. We’ve researched the issue and have a concrete agenda to follow. Change is possible and we’ve started making progress.

This is a turning point for our city, state and country. We are not able to place issues of racial inequity on the backburner any longer. It’s time for a new standard. It’s time to listen to the youth and tear down the systems that keep us from thriving.

Instead of an executive order to call in the National Guard, we urge Governor Evers, County Executive Crowley and Mayor Barrett to all issue emergency orders to support black lives and dismantle racist practices in all our institutions they have authority over:

1. Declare racism a statewide emergency​ with the same force and resources of the National Guard

2. Remove all police and policing resources​ from our neighborhoods and schools immediately

  • Shift 25% from Milwaukee city police, county sheriff and state police budgets to public health equity efforts focused on black and brown residents
  • Cut all policing resources from Milwaukee Public Schools and shift the $16 million budget to hire more counselors and mental health professionals for black and brown students

3. Demilitarize our streets​ and stop accepting federal surplus of military weapons

4. Allocate emergency and permanent resources​ to invest in black and brown lives like counseling, strengthening our schools, replacing our lead pipes and rebuilding our black and brown businesses.

5. Audit all government institutions​ to identify racist practices and deliver a comprehensive plan to address the problem.

Governor Evers, Mayor Barrett and County Executive Crowley all have the chance to be on the correct side of history. In this historic moment, our leaders can use their power and resources to hear, prioritize and invest in the needs and well-being of their black and brown constituents. Now is not the time for business as usual. We must all invest in dismantling our ancient, oppressive institutions to finally protect black lives. Call off the National Guard.

Leaders Igniting Transformation is a statewide organization led by black and brown young people with chapters across Milwaukee high schools and Wisconsin college campuses that are building power to advocate for changes affecting youth of color.

This story was originally published by Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service, where you can find other stories reporting on fifteen city neighborhoods in Milwaukee.

One thought on “Op Ed: We Don’t Need the National Guard”

  1. weitenma83 says:

    I’m confused. I find “When black people are murdered, arrest their murderers.” early in this article. Yet demand 2 states “Remove all police and policing resources​ from our neighborhoods and schools immediately”. How can police arrest murderers if they aren’t allowed in the black community? Or are they referring only to blacks murdered by whites? Who is going to deal with domestic violence incidents, reckless driving, robberies, drug dealing, etc. if there are no police around?

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