Board Passes Racial Equity Proposal
A response to calls for police reform aimed at courts, sheriff's office, transit system.
It’s been more than a year since the Milwaukee County Board and former Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele declared racism a public health crisis. And in April, the board took another action building towards the ultimate goal of redressing racial inequity in county government and the county as a whole.
Then came the killing of George Floyd at the hands of police on May 25, setting off a month of prolonged protests in the nation and the county over his death and police brutality. At their meeting Thursday, the board approved a resolution that seeks to identify areas where lawmakers can change policies related to policing and sentencing that respond to concerns over police brutality and further racial equity.
At the start of the meeting, board members, along with County Executive David Crowley, held a presentation called “Say Their Names,” in which each supervisor named and told the story of a person of color that was killed by police, or in the case of Trayvon Martin, by a private citizen.
Chairwoman Marcelia Nicholson said, “This presentation is done as a tribute to honor the individuals who we’ve lost due to acts of violence enacted by a system that has oppressed people of color for generations.”
The the stories and names shared by Crowley and the board were: Aiyana Stanley-Jones, Trayvon Martin, Yvette Smith, Dontre Hamilton, Eric Garner, Laquan McDonald, John Crawford III, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Walter Scott, Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, Sylville Smith, Botham Jean, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Joel Acevedo, Tony McDade, David McAtee and George Floyd.
“This is an opportunity that we all have to take advantage of right now.”
Protests over police brutality and racial inequality have become a part of daily life in America and Milwaukee. And the conversation over how communities can be better policed, and racial inequality addressed have shot to the forefront of many political conversations.
In light of this, Nicholson said, “It will take deliberate action by policy makers at every level of government to end police violence… Our immediate goal as the board is to explore and act on efforts that will create meaningful change.”
In April, the county passed legislation that was crafted to further racial equity in county government. This latest piece of legislation is more targeted, aimed at the justice system and local law enforcement policy. The resolution seeks to identify areas where local policymakers can affect real change in racial equity and law enforcement practices.
First, it directs the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office to produce a report on policies within the department related to community policing policies, training, use of force, crisis response intervention, racial equity, as well as a budgetary breakdown of spending on deputy training and community policing.
Second, it requests a report from the Milwaukee County Circuit Court on racial disparities in sentencing, sentencing diversion programs and racial equity.
And thirdly, it requests the Department of Transportation to provide the board with a report on the policies department officials used to stop bus service during the protests and “specific data” on those shutdowns of service.
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Read more about 2020 Racial Justice Protests here