Wisconsin Governor Calls Out National Guard—Milwaukee Youth Refuse to Back Down
August 15, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
From a reader:
On Saturday, August 13, 2016, Sylville Smith, 23 years old, was gunned down by police in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in the neighborhood around Sherman Park. Residents told Revolution what happened when the neighborhood erupted in righteous anger: Sylville was shot around 2 pm in broad daylight and people began to amass spontaneously in protest at the site. A woman who heard the shots and went over there said, “The police was hostile—told us to disperse—so that’s when we went to the BP [gas] station.” It turns out that there was a long history of antagonism with this particular gas station, culminating last month with an employee there firing his gun in the air to terrorize people and there were protests over this. “Things escalated from there,” the woman said, and before long the police had come in with their “riot crew.” She said that the initial crowd of people protesting the murder included “family and friends of Sylville, young, and old from the neighborhood, and everywhere.”
A youth organizer from the area talked about the attitudes of the youth: “They have a distrust of the system. They’ve been demonized and targeted. They are fearless, angry, ostracized, and nobody wants to deal with them. They feel ‘it’s us against everybody,’” and he made clear that “everybody” included adult Black people. He compared the incident to the murder of Freddie Gray, in that he had talked to family and found out that they had a lawsuit against the police, and that Sylville had been stopped and chased for no apparent reason.
Milwaukee erupted like Ferguson and Baltimore. A part of the city went up in flames as the masses made it clear that they were fed up and not taking it anymore. In response, the governor called out the National Guard and went all-out to get community and church leaders to suppress the youth.
As Carl Dix said in his statement, “Milwaukee Explodes in Righteous Rebellion as Police Kill Again!”:
"This rebellion is right on time. Despite police wearing body cameras, despite Department of Justice reports that expose the racism and abuse in police departments across the country, despite commission meetings and talk of reforms, police continue to kill people again and again. And the whole system continues to exonerate the killer cops when their murderous deeds get dragged into the light of day. People in Milwaukee have refused to accept this state-sponsored murder in silence, and they are right to do so. And everyone who stands for justice must have their backs."
Revolutionaries from Chicago arrived on Sunday, the day after the rebellion, in time to join a protest at the police precinct a few blocks down the street from the burned out BP gas station and now ground zero for continuing protests. The Stolen Lives banner came out, along with the Message from the Central Committee of the RCP, “Time To Get Organized for an Actual Revolution” (now reflected on the banner itself.) Also distributed were Carl Dix’s statement and copies of Revolution newspaper, and many Stolen Lives posters.
Milwaukee, Sunday August 14. Photo: Special to revcom.us
In preparation for the arrival of the Revolution Club, in the evening, a crew saturated with these materials, posted large versions of the Message and the poster “America Was Never Great—We Need to Overthrow, Not Vote For, This System” in key locations. The small Stolen Lives posters were so popular you couldn’t keep them in your hands as people gave donations for them. All the Revolution newspapers and Carl’s statement got out.
A vigil for Sylville was held starting at 7 pm at the site of the murder. Here the consistent message from ministers, “responsible leaders” and even a few family members was that OK, you’ve made your statement, “we already showed them what we can do,” but now is the time to get peaceful, go to the town hall meeting next Tuesday, get right with God, start behaving responsibly in general and get our own house in order, and demand answers through proper channels. The crowd around these speakers grew smaller and smaller as the youth in particular heard this blaming and shaming and dissing of their standing up in righteous rebellion the night before.
By this time the Revolution Club arrived, with their BA Speaks: Revolution—Nothing Less! t-shirts, and a big Stolen Lives banner with the words “Stop Murder and Terror by the Police” and “We Need to get organized for an ACTUAL Revolution.” As a quiet march to Sherman Park was being led by the Nation of Islam (NOI), the Revolution Club began chanting, “Indict, Convict, Send the Killer Cops to Jail, the whole damn system is guilty as hell!” Other marchers also began chants. The march grew and by the time it reached a fountain area in the park it had grown to over 200 people. Here, the NOI put out a message that “God is present. The God of Justice brings forth justice—even if the Department of Justice doesn’t,” and they urged people to leave the park and go home.
As this too began to disperse... the youth looking disconsolate... the Revolution Club stepped up. A club member started to agitate: “I salute the youth! I salute what you did! You shook they ass up! The country heard you, the world heard you!” This marked the beginning of a different evening! The faces of many youth began to brighten, and they gravitated to the agitation. “I’m not trying to sugar coat a damn thing. We need to get rid of this system from the bottom up. Not one brick here and one brick there. You need to get with BA, Bob Avakian. He’s got a scientific approach—not this lollygagging BS!”
The “responsible officials” felt the need to squelch this revolutionary breath of fresh air from going further. Instead, the Revolution Club once again began marching and agitating followed by many youth.
At the corner the crowd took over a lane of traffic on this four-lane road. The Revolution Club held a speak out. The speaker from the Revolution Club continued to speak from the heart: “Justice is blind as hell—I’ve never seen any. (Police) shoot a 7-year-old baby in the head!” “This is a murderous state—Vietnam, Iraq—the U.S. is a killer!” Quoting Philando Castile’s mother, the speaker from the Club said, “‘He lived by the law and the law killed him’… What type of system does all this—and then allows the cops to go free? Get with the Revolutionary Communist Party, I’m with the Revolution Club…”
This drew forth and opened the door to masses to really speak their minds. A woman grabbed the mic—“We’re not taking this anymore! Fuck You! Slavery is over Motherfuckers!” A young man followed, expressing the exact opposite of what the speakers at the vigil and the NOI were trying to impose: “We done prayin’ We done beggin’!” and then went on to expose the hypocrisy of the system blaming the people for violence while condoning the gas station employee firing his gun in front of children. The police, meanwhile, were lurking nearby but not directly intervening. The authorities did, however, send about six fire trucks with lights and sirens blaring up to the vigil and then down the road a block, sending a message to the people.
Photo: Special to revcom.us
The Revolution Club then helped organize people to march back to the police precinct. Angry people faced off against the police who were guarding the precinct. Many other youth hung back on the corners and side streets nearby. But they could hear the agitation from the Revolution Club, and this drew them forward, across the street into the protest. The protest then spilled out into a nearby three-way intersection. Several young women began to yell at the top of their lungs, “Yeahhh!” The triangle in the middle of the intersection was taken over by at least 75 people, with many more all over, cars driving by in a steady stream, 99 percent of them taking the Message from the RCP, many people taking up the Message to distribute in bundles, walking down the middle of the street handing them out to cars, people holding up the Message, plastering it up against the windows of their cars. A fancied-up car with huge rims came up and blocked the street in front of the intersection. Supportive Black motorcyclists began to show up in numbers. A couple of times the crowd left the intersection and started to march, but then went back to the intersection yelling, “Shut it down!” The Revolution Club, the Stolen Lives banner, and their agitation were in the mix of all this, with a growing periphery of revolutionaries and masses getting out the message. Well over a thousand Messages were gotten out through the day, many in bundles.
Listen to audio of the Message, recorded by members of the Revolution Club
Still the size and intensity of the march and protest grew as we took off down the street back to the BP station a few blocks away. People started turning up their radios, hanging out of windows and through their moon roofs dancing and calling out. One revolutionary who was handing out the Message to people in their cars heard someone call out, “White boy! Hey White boy—don’t be so shy, don’t be scared—give me those!” and off he went with a large bundle of fliers. It had the real feel of a festival of the oppressed.
As the group of marchers and cars again approached ground zero, the mood changed again. Dead serious. Women in particular yelling out their open car door, or right up the face of the police waiting in their riot gear at the station, “Fuck the Police!” “Fuck you!”
The police brought out all their shit—several armored vehicles, dozens of squads from several jurisdictions, robo cop gear and automatic weapons, busses, paddy wagons, assault wagons, etc., etc. They announced an “unlawful assembly,” ordered dispersal on pain of arrest, and then used a phalanx of riot-clad and shielded cops to push the protesters a block south of the main intersection. As has been widely reported, the masses, the youth in particular, bravely stood their ground and did not let the police intimidate them. At least 14 people were arrested.
In retaliation, that chief OINKER of the sheriff’s, David Clarke, announced on Monday, August 15 that Sherman Park, where the youth gather, will be closed to the public at 6 pm.
The city and the Milwaukee police announced a curfew for teenagers of 10 pm. The mayor and the police chief went on the news and whined that the whole problem was caused by outside agitators from the Revolutionary Communist Party (where have we heard that before!). News flash to pigs—only the defiant youth in the community were on the ground on Saturday! Revolutionaries plead guilty to supporting the defiant ones who rise up against murdering police and centuries of oppression rained down on Black people.
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