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Milwaukee demands the city fund the people, not the cops

By staff

Protestors march into Milwaukee's City Hall to demand a People's Budget that fun

Milwaukee, WI – On Monday, October 3, more than 30 people rallied and marched into the Common Council Chambers of City Hall to voice their disapproval of Mayor Cavalier Johnson’s budget proposal and demand a budget that reflects the needs of the people of Milwaukee.

This event served as the kick-off for a new campaign demanding a People’s Budget in Milwaukee. The demands for the new budget include: No layoffs for general city employees; implement the raises that were promised by the city (2% for general city employees and a 1% alternative to hazard pay already approved under ARPA); and reinvest 50% of the Milwaukee Police Department’s budget to fund public sector jobs, culture, recreation and mental health services

These demands are vital for Milwaukee. After decades of slashes to public services to increase the reckless funding of the police, Mayor Johnson is poised to increase MPD’s budget to nearly half of the city’s budget, even if it leads Milwaukee to insolvency. Despite claims that the budget is getting rid of 17 police officers, the budget is still committed to paying $100 million in police pensions alone, which these 17 officers will, of course, receive.

The event was organized by the Milwaukee Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression (MAARPR), Students for a Democratic Society – Milwaukee (SDS), Young Workers Committee (YWC) and AFSCME District Council 32.

“We’ve already been feeling the financial strains of the economy,” said Alan Chavoya, outreach chair of the Milwaukee Alliance. “The cost of all our basic needs are skyrocketing as our wages remain stagnant. All the ingredients are there for a worsening recession, and with this proposal, we’re guaranteed to see significant slashes to public sector jobs and much needed services. So, Mayor Johnson is basically securing the loss of around 1000 public sector jobs in the near future in order to further fund the police. How does that make sense?”

“General city employees have been asked to do more with less, and for less. In the last ten years, those city employees have not seen across-the-board raises,” said Mark Pelzek, vice president of AFSCME District Council 32. Although the conditions general city employees face can be, at least, partially attributed to the Governor Walker-era Act 10 legislation, Pelzek said, “while the mayors have been forced to choose between funding public services or the police, and year after year, they have chosen to fully fund the police.”

Among the public services being sacrificed to fund the police are various libraries, where operating hours will be significantly reduced with this budget proposal. Libraries provide important resources for Milwaukee communities.

“We deserve to live in a world where our neighbors, our teachers, our families, our coworkers, and our public workers are treated with respect and integrity. Where no child’s access to music, art, language learning, or wellness opportunities are cut short because their government decided to prioritize jailing their brothers, sisters, cousins and parents over their education and wellbeing,” said Liam Farin of SDS.

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