Wisconsin SDS Liberates July 4 Parades: “War on Walker, Not on Workers!”
Milwaukee, WI – A dozen members of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) marched in Independence Day parades for the fourth year in a row over the July 4 weekend. The group of student and youth activists entered parades – without registering – in Whitefish Bay and Shorewood, which are in the midst of a heated recall campaign against Republican State Senator Alberta Darling.
SDS members jumped into both parades ahead of Senator Darling, who is a primary target of a statewide campaign to recall supporters of Governor Scott Walker’s anti-worker agenda.
In the Shorewood parade, SDS received thunderous applause when they unveiled a banner which read “War on Walker, not on workers!” Other banners demanded “Fund education, not occupation,” “U.S.A. off foreign soil,” and “End the occupations – No war for empire!”
The reception in Whitefish Bay was much more contentious. Some angry spectators yelled obscenities at the students and fetched police, who threatened to arrest SDS members for “parading without a permit.” While SDS members were forced out of the parade by police, dozens of spectators thanked the students for their message and courage to exercise free speech. One man was heard saying, “War on Walker, where do I sign up?”
After leaving the Whitefish Bay parade, undercover police cars tailed the activists for blocks before stopping them far from any supportive spectators. The officers questioned and videotaped the students and even attempted to separate one student from the group. When it became clear that the rest of the group would not leave, police eventually let them go, but continued to tail them. After several members entered their car, they were immediately pulled over and eventually released without a citation.
In 2008, Glendale police detained several SDS members for marching in a parade while parade goers looked on in outrage. However, SDS is committed to sharing pro-worker messages in the face of government repression. Even as 23 activists face federal repression for anti-war and international worker solidarity, SDS members are taking bold action to show that they cannot be silenced.
After the event, one SDS member said “The support we received from families, workers and youth at the parades was overwhelming and truly made the event worthwhile.”