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Author: Wisconsin Watch

Local advocates work to narrow racial disparities for those not given the option to get vaccinated

Community groups have found success through partnerships, deep listening, and meeting people where they are. They are lessons that transcend vaccination campaigns. Barbara felt ecstatic in January when a Wisconsin Department of Health Services letter confirmed that she and her parents were eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations. The 28-year-old education student lives with her parents in Milwaukee. All three share caretaking duties for Barbara’s young child, who is on the autism spectrum. That unpaid work qualifies them as frontline health care personnel in Wisconsin’s vaccine rollout. Barbara’s last name has been withheld to avoid repercussions for her parents, who are...

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Wisconsin sends mixed messages to undocumented immigrants who qualify for rent relief

Some regional nonprofits administering the $322 million emergency rental assistance program created by Governor Tony Evers may be unintentionally discouraging non-U.S. citizens from applying, even though immigration status holds no bearing on eligibility for the federally financed program. At least eight of the 14 organizations administering the Wisconsin Emergency Rental Assistance (WERA) program ask applicants to share their Social Security numbers through pre-screening forms, a review has found. In some cases, applicants are asked to submit the Social Security numbers of every member of their household. The eight agencies administer aid to 35 of Wisconsin’s 68 WERA-eligible counties. Meanwhile,...

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Partisan paralysis has torn Wisconsin’s safety net and left the jobless struggling to survive the pandemic

Brandon Cacek filed for unemployment insurance in mid-March last year after losing his substitute teaching job due to the pandemic. He is still waiting for that crucial aid 11 months later. “I keep leaving out hope that I’m going to get some kind of assistance through this,” said Cacek, 40, a Marine Corps veteran and father of two in Marinette, Wisconsin. “But the longer this goes on the less hope that lingers.” Nearly every person who has reviewed Cacek’s case has found no reason to deny him compensation, he said. That includes an administrative law judge who ruled on...

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Documenting Hate: A look back at 2017 when the Proud Boys established their first Wisconsin Chapter

In May of 2017, eight men met at Mackesey’s Irish Pub in downtown Madison to drink beer and talk politics. The men, all of them White and most in their 20s, had met online and were getting together for the first time. The meeting would establish the Wisconsin chapter of an emerging national group called the Proud Boys. For Thaddeus Pall, it was a rare opportunity to openly express his support for President Donald Trump in liberal Madison. As the men were leaving the bar for a member’s apartment, Pall, then 26, separated from the group to buy cigarettes....

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Barriers and Disillusionment: Obstacles still prevent Wisconsin’s nonvoters from attaining political clout

Working digitally and on the streets of Milwaukee, activists tried to convince nonvoters to go to the polls, but distrust and disgust kept some away. When Angela Lang reflected on the thousands of conversations she and other members of her community organization, BLOC, have had with Milwaukee residents, one floats to the top of her mind. It was with a 54-year-old Milwaukee resident who explained to Lang’s colleague that she was not voting because she was a convicted felon. Unbeknownst to her, she had been eligible for about 12 years — since she completed her probation. A BLOC staffer...

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The Madison Method: Former police chief suggests alternative to military tactics and escalation

David Couper, Madison’s police chief from 1972 to 1993, said law enforcement should ditch the riot gear and tear gas to keep the peace. At least 1,500 young people gathered on Madison, Wisconsin’s Mifflin Street in April 1973 for a block party featuring street dancing, potato salad and sunshine. People drank beer, smoked weed and tossed Frisbees in the neighborhood near the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus known informally as Miffland. Police officers observed the party from a distance, greeting attendees and directing traffic away from the event. They did not wear police caps, nor did they make arrests. The...

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