‘We've never been free’: Milwaukee celebrates its second annual People's Independence Day
Milwaukee, WI – Milwaukee organizations hosted their second annual People’s Independence Day on July 4. Partner organizations, led by the Milwaukee Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression (MAARPR), Reproductive Justice Action – Milwaukee (RJAM) and Freedom Road Socialist Organization (FRSO), hosted a rally and march shedding light on the hypocrisy of July 4th and the United States’ unjustified claim of being the “nation of freedom.” The so-called “freedom” America claims to possess and “bestow” unto other nations is simply the freedom for the ruling class to oppress the working class, either domestically or internationally.
Paraphrasing Frederick Douglass, Lo Cross, co-chair of the Milwaukee Alliance, asked, “What is the Fourth to people facing brutality from the police in and outside their classrooms, or the army in their homeland, or to those who don’t have community control over how they are policed?”
Cross’s remarks reflected a sentiment shared by all the speakers at the event, who spoke about different issues pertaining to U.S. oppression, such as attacks on bodily autonomy, the national oppression of Palestine, and the struggle over Cop City in Atlanta.
It is important to note that this year's event came shortly before two significant events – the first Republican Presidential Debate, which will be held in Milwaukee’s Fiserv Forum on August 23, and the looming Teamsters strike.
“A year and eleven days from now, dangerous people will be coming to Milwaukee. 4000 police officers, or as I like to call them, outside agitators, will be invading our city. They will be here to protect the people that protect them, the vicious, reactionary Republican Party,” said Omar Flores, spokesperson of the Coalition to March on the RNC. “Some people say it’s too dangerous to march against the Republicans. They are too violent, they are too reactionary. I say it's too dangerous to not march against the Republicans. What has ‘not fighting’ ever won for us? The people of Milwaukee, the people across the country who want a better world, we do not see any choice but to fight back. We must continue to fight against the agenda that has oppressed people for so long.”
Ethan Constello, a member of FRSO and rank-and-file Teamster at UPS, stated, “The road to freedom lies through socialism. Unions can do a lot, but under capitalism we will never throw off the chains of class exploitation and national oppression. Through class struggle unionism and militant rank-and-file paired with a militant leadership, we can make amazing gains. But we must look forward to the long term. We must build up an organization capable of dismantling capitalism and building up socialism. The right-wing legislators and Supreme Court justices are attacking hard-won gains of the people now more than ever. So we’ve gotta be hardcore!”
Overall, the event carried forward the important message for people fed up with this moribund system to take action and join organizations leading the different struggles. As contradictions heighten between the working class and capitalists, domestically and internationally, it becomes clearer day by day that they are losing their control. Everything under heaven is in utter chaos, the situation is excellent.