By Nick Viviani and Sanika Bhargaw
Published: Aug. 31, 2020
MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Members of the Wisconsin State Legislature’s Black Caucus were joined by community leaders and organizers in front of the state Capitol on Monday to push for legislation to address policing and find solutions to end gun violence.
The news conference started less than two hours before the legislature was set to convene for a special session to address police reform proposals Governor Tony Evers introduced earlier this year.
“We believe in equity across the board for all people. When the black community hurts, all of Wisconsin hurts,” said State Rep. LaKeshia Myers (D-Milwaukee).
Lawmakers and other advocates called on the legislature to take up a package of nine bills dealing with police reform, including a bill intended to address racial profiling and another banning no-knock warrants.
“It is clear, it is evident, it is apparent that Wisconsin is in a crisis,” said State Rep. Shelia Stubbs (D-Madison). She added, “Jacob Blake is not the first person in our state to be victimized by law enforcement officers, and without change, he will not be the last person in this state to be victimized by police.”
The groups gathered Monday were also advocating for significant increases in investment for communities affected by violent crime, rather than increases in policing. In particular, they are asking for $25 million for a Community-Based Violence Intervention and Prevention Fund that is designed to replicate successful programs to quell violence in some of the hardest hit communities.
“We need resources, not policing. We need schools, not prisons. We need justice, not justifications,” Community Justice Action Fund Advocacy Director Greg Jackson said in a statement released prior to Monday’s news conference.
Jackson argues Wisconsin leaders refuse to invest in communities, and their only solution is to step up policing. He points out other cities have reduced violence by up to half through investment, support for survivors, and peaceful interventions.
State lawmakers were ordered to assemble in Madison for a special session that would start around noon Monday. Gov. Evers announced the session last Monday following the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha.