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Markasa Tucker is the director of the African-American Roundtable, a coalition led by and serving the African American community in Milwaukee, including the LiberateMKE campaign.
During a recent Common Council meeting, eight of the 15 alders (Ald. Milele Coggs, Ald. Marina Dimitrijevic, Ald. Nikiya Dodd, Ald. Ashanti Hamilton, Alderman Nik Novak, Ald. José Pérez, Ald. Khalif Rainey and Ald. Russell Stamper) rejected the COPS grant, a $9.7 million federal grant to support 30 additional officers for three years. The community believed that the Common Council listened to the countless voices demanding that no additional money be added to the Milwaukee Police Department, not just through the COPS grant, but overall.
Later in this same meeting where they voted “no,” Ald. Dodd made a motion to reconsider the grant, meaning it will go back to the Common Council in January.
Hundreds of voices that spoke at budget hearings over the past two years said they don’t want the COPS grant today, tomorrow or next year! The community wants something else, and it’s not more police.
The vote to deny additional funding to an already bloated and unaccountable police department speaks volumes not just to LiberateMKE’s demand to defund MPD but to the greater community as a whole. Several alderpersons suggested reforms that some community members support, but LiberateMKE does not support, through an alternative resolution presented by Ald. Ashanti Hamilton. In response, MPD made it disappointingly clear it was not willing to bend in the direction of new ideas and accountability.
We will continue to ask people to reach out to their alders, asking them to support the hundreds and hundreds of their constituents who have called for a divestment, not reconsiderations of resourcing MPD.
We hope the Common Council will hold the “NO” vote and reject this grant once and for all in January. Then, it can focus on community safety strategies like non-police responses to mental health, a priority we presented in a letter signed by over 80 community organizations and community leaders, with a similar resolution being unanimously adopted by the Common Council.
We will LiberateMKE!