Milwaukee joined the nationwide “Day without Immigrants” march on May 1 to send a message of resistance about Trump’s war on immigrants.
On Monday, May 1, more than 30,000 Wisconsinites went on strike, closed their businesses, and withdrew their children from school in solidarity with the nationwide May 1st Day without Immigrants to resist Trump’s attacks on immigrant communities, Black communities, Muslims, LGBTQ people, women, and working class people.Community members demanded Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker remove Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, block anti-sanctuary city legislation and support the return of driver’s licenses to immigrants. Protesters oppose Clarke because of his efforts to deputize his sheriffs to act as Immigration agents through the federal 287g program, and for dеаths at the county jаіl and abuse of power.
“Milwaukee has become the national epicenter of the fight against 287g and Trump’s efforts to turn local law enforcement into an arm of the mass deportation machine,” said Christine Neumann-Ortiz, Executive Director of Voces de la Frontera. “The recent federal court decision blocking Trump’s executive orders attacking sanctuary cities, counties, and states represents progress for our movement, but we cannot rely on the courts alone. On May 1st, we’re marching to celebrate local sanctuary victories, demand that Governor Walker remove Sheriff Clarke from office, and to demand Clarke face criminal charges for his responsibility for the dеаths in the jаіl and abuses of power. Tens of thousands will march to reject Clarke’s efforts to bring 287g to Wisconsin, and against the Trump Administration’s campaign of state terror against immigrant families and people of color.”
Known as a “Day Without Latinxs, Immigrants, and Refugees,” the event culminated in a massive march of over 30,000 people, using estimates from the crowdsize.com app, from Voces de la Frontera’s offices to the Milwaukee County Courthouse. Throughout Wisconsin over 140 businesses closed out of solidarity or due to worker absence, including more than 100 in Milwaukee. Many more businesses experienced decreased production due to work stoppages. Following the march, the massive crowd rallied on the steps of the courthouse, listening to music and speeches from community members opposed to the Sheriff and elected officials.
“Wisconsin is seeing an example of bold resistance to Trump for the country and the world,” added Neumann-Ortiz. “Just a month ago our strike inspired others nationally and May 1st represents an escalation. There are actions in over 100 cities today embracing the general strike and boycott as a national strategy. The fight against Sheriff Clarke and 287g is of national importance. Clarke is being considered for a national post in DHS to be a liaison to all law enforcement in the US. He is trying to legitimize 287g and encourage law enforcement to profile and carry out raids that break up families and undermine community safety. We are here today to send a message to Sheriff Clarke. We will not stop till you are removed from office and face criminal charges for your human rights abuses. We will not stop till 287g is shut down.
State Representative David Crowley of Milwaukee spoke next. “Our so-called Sheriff was not elected to be the puppet of Trump, he was not elected to be an ICE agent, and he was not elected to use his office to advance a political agenda through fear and intimidation,” said Rep. Crowley. “Four people have dіеd under Clarke’s supervision at the Milwaukee County Jаіl. For his outrageous neglect of duties, his use of his office to intimidate and threaten Milwaukee residents, and his promotion of violence and hatred, David Clarke deserves his own cell in the County Jаіl.”
Melissa Hall of Milwaukee addressed the crowd. She is the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit against Sheriff Clarke for shackling women during pregnancy and even birth. “I’m the main plaintiff in the lawsuit against Sheriff Clarke for shackling and chaining me while I had my child,” said Hall. “We are challenging Clarke’s policy of handcuffing pregnant women. It’s a violation of our human rights. No mother or child should have to suffer this. A woman giving birth and her child are innocent.“
Walter Stern spoke also. He is an attorney representing the family of Terrill Thomas, who dіеd of dehydration after Clarke’s deputies turned off his water for 7 days. “As the lawyer for three of Terrill Thomas’ children, the most important right is the constitutional right to life,” said Stern. “That means the county jаіl and Sheriff Clarke cannot torture a person in their custody. You do not torture, and I hope that this family can see justice.”
Dan Black of Milwaukee, who is also suing Sheriff Clarke, shared his story with marchers. “A few months ago I saw Sheriff Clarke on an airplane, I shook my head at him,” said Black. “He was wearing Dallas Cowboys gear on the day they were playing the Packers, and I was surprised Milwaukee’s Sheriff would be supporting the Cowboys. Two hours later when we landed in Milwaukee I was met with six sheriff’s deputies. I was arrested and interrogated. I was scared. I filed a complaint with the county. How did Sherif Clarke respond? He posted a dеаth threat on Facebook for me. If this is how he acts for this, how are we supposed to trust him with 287g? We can’t. There can’t be 287g. Sanctuaries cities now.”
Networks, organizations and unions mobilizing nationally on May 1st included the Fair Immigration Reform Movement, AFL-CIO, United We Dream, SEIU, Food Chain Workers Alliance, Church World Service, Moveon.org, Sierra Club, Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools, United Farm Worjkers, Black Lives Matter Movement, Fight for $15, National Day Laborers Organizing Network (NDLON), American Federation of Teachers (AFT), and the National Educator’s Association (NEA).