Open Letter to Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors
Last year, our organizations called on you to divest from Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO). You ignored our demands, and input from the public, failing to respect the clear call from community members to divest. We write this letter to reaffirm our position on shifting resources from policing and incarceration, and towards initiatives that will improve the quality of life for all who live in Milwaukee County.
This year, the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) posted a deficit of $3.9 million, and the Sheriff continues to ask for more money. We are horrified to see that the County Executive’s drafted budget proposes to increase MCSO’s budget by 6 percent during this crucial time period. Right now, MCSO performs discretionary services they should not be performing. Some of these “services” directly harm people, like the patrols enforcing minor municipal violations that function as a deeply regressive form of racially- targeted taxation. As well as policing protesters who are exercising their first amendment right to protest racial injustice – the same racism and injustice that the County declared a public health crisis in 2019.
We, the undersigned organizations, ask with urgency that the board cut the proposed allocation to Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office by 25%, which is approximately $12 million. We further demand that the money saved from the cuts to the department be allocated to services that we desperately need more investment in: early literacy, housing security, democratic and community-controlled economic development (specifically County union jobs), cultural enrichment for our youth, enhanced park services in low-income areas, expanded health services, and public transportation.
The Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office has been unaccountable and has grossly overspent on its 2021 overtime budget. If you reward the MCSO’s request for more money, you further undermine the legitimacy of our democratic institutions. We ask that the board take steps to curtail this type of spending, reduce MCSO’s budget, and look for creative ways to finance programs that we desperately need in this county.
Milwaukee Democratic Socialists of America (Milwaukee DSA)
Black Leaders Organizing Communities (BLOC)
African American Roundtable (AART)
Milwaukee Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression (MAARPR)
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