Tens of Thousands Fill the Streets of Milwaukee:
Stop Sheriff Clarke's Plan to Turn His Pigs Into ICE Agents
February 13, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Tens of thousands of people came to Milwaukee from about 25 cities all across Wisconsin on Monday, February 13th, outraged at the nationwide assault by ICE agents on immigrants, and determined to stop Milwaukee Sheriff Clarke from enlisting every cop under him to join the assault. According to reports, buses came in from Green Bay, Madison, Racine, Manitowoc, Appleton, and the Wisconsin Dells.
Just days earlier the immigrant rights group Voces de la Frontera, joined by local Muslim organizations and other groups, had issued a call for a statewide “Day without Latinxs, Immigrants, and Refugees.” They challenged people not to go to work, and students not to go to school, but instead to take part in a massive act of defiance in the streets of Milwaukee. Organizers said more than 150 businesses closed for the day.
The call for the protest was issued in the midst of the nationwide, coordinated series of immigration raids launched by ICE. These raids took place in the wake of the Trump regime's cold-blooded order to round up and deport undocumented immigrants everywhere. Shortly after Trump signed his executive order instructing government agencies “to deploy all lawful means to secure the Nation’s southern border, to prevent further illegal immigration into the United States,” Sheriff Clarke declared that he was going to turn his local sheriffs into immigration officers in partnership with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). This is the government's 287(g) program, which gives local and state officers the power to arrest and detain undocumented people as deputized immigration agents. This program was developed under Obama's administration. Known as “Secure Communities,” it was pulled back when a number of major cities and local police opposed it.
Trump's executive order calls for this program to be brought back in cities everywhere; and to punish any that resist, especially those that are now declaring themselves “sanctuary jurisdictions.” Clarke is by no means alone; sheriffs and police chiefs all over the country cannot wait to be able to go "full bore" in rounding up immigrants, with or without papers, who to them are all “criminal aliens.”
On January 27th Clarke responded to a query from The Associated Press: “President Trump made it clear with his executive order on enforcement of our immigration laws.” And, “No more catch and release of criminal illegal aliens. I will assign as many deputies to this initiative as I can. It is a public safety priority.” Clarke is very publicly leading the way in fully loading Trump's fascist assault by adding the armed might of state and local police fully integrated at every level in the war on immigrants. Clarke, a Black, right wing reactionary, has fully embraced the fascism of the Trump-Pence regime. He was considered as a possible pick to be the head of Trump's Department of Homeland Security. And he has been widely promoted in the media nationally, including for his disgusting attack on the Black Lives Matter movement, calling those involved “terrorists.”
In response to all this, business closed. Students organized the day before in classrooms, painting banners and making signs, and then walked out to be part of the protest. Students who had their parents’ permission to participate in the strike were not marked absent from school. Workers left their jobs. They came together in massive numbers and marched from the Latino section of Milwaukee to the Milwaukee County Courthouse. A restaurant owner told the Milwaukee Business Journal that it was an easy decision to shut down and lose a day’s worth of business: “I will do whatever it takes—not only because I'm a Latino supporting a Latino—I will do whatever is (right) for anybody." A 39-year-old foundry worker told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel he was marching to fight deportations and show the importance of keeping families together. "We're looking for freedom. We're looking for a better life for our families." "We have to show solidarity."
Christine Neumann-Ortiz, Voces de la Frontera's executive director, was quoted by the Journal Sentinel saying, "Immigrant and refugee communities, and those that stand with them, are not going to be pushed into the shadows. We're not going to let our constitutional rights to be stripped away from all of us, nor allow discriminatory laws to be legalized. We're making a strong statement that immigrants and refugees contribute significantly to the well-being of our economy, and that we should be helping them, thanking them and making life easier for them, instead of trying to implement these kinds of policies." Neumann-Ortiz said the policies promoted by Trump and Clarke "are trying to instill fear, break up families and promote discrimination."
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