This is a very late post, please forgive us! We were in Wisconsin October 5th through 8th.
Our first stop in Wisconsin was Milwaukee, a highly segregated city where black communities moved after black unionism was big in the Midwest, and therefore didn’t have a chance to build as much wealth. The city is surrounded by white, conservative suburbs, some of which are in Paul Ryan’s district, and its county was until recently represented by extremely conservative Sheriff David Clarke, who presided over incredibly abusive police and carceral systems. Milwaukee had a powerful Socialist party in the first half of the 20th century, which prioritized political integrity and boosted public systems in economically responsible ways, achieving both the best health outcomes of any American city – and zero debt. In 1936, Time magazine called it “perhaps the best-governed city in the US.”
In Milwaukee, we stayed with Katie’s friend and organizer with the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF) local affiliate Common Ground, Allie Gardner. We caught up on the campaign for public safety that Allie is working on with three large Latino parishes on the South Side of the city. Common Ground is an inter-racial, multi-faith network of congregations and community groups in the city and some surrounding suburbs.
This year Allie has been working with leaders in the Latino community around issues of immigration and safety. Like everyone who is concerned about changes in federal immigration policy, the leaders in Common Ground are watching the changes closely and crafting campaigns to address issues that their communities face on a daily basis that are exacerbated by the realities of being undocumented. One of their major questions is: what happens to issues of crime and safety on the local level? In the city of Milwaukee police have said they won’t collaborate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) when they work with someone who is a victim of a crime – but that doesn’t mean they don’t collaborate in other ways. This summer, core teams at the three Latino parishes collected more than 500 surveys from community members asking people to share their experiences with crime, safety, and the police. The majority of respondents had experienced, or knew someone who had experienced, a crime in their neighborhood, and at the same time did not feel comfortable asking the police for help.