Special News Series: Rising Up For Justice! – ‘We’re not stopping’: Community organizers are focusing on local policy changes for 2021

Introduction To This Series:

This post is one installment in an ongoing news series: a “living history” of the current national and international uprising for justice.

Today’s movement descends directly from the many earlier civil rights struggles against repeated injustices and race-based violence, including the killing of unarmed Black people. The posts in this series serve as a timeline of the uprising that began on May 26, 2020, the day after a Minneapolis police officer killed an unarmed Black man, George Floyd, by kneeling on his neck. The viral video of Floyd’s torturous suffocation brought unprecedented national awareness to the ongoing demand to truly make Black Lives Matter in this country.

The posts in this series focus on stories of the particular killings that have spurred the current uprising and on the protests taking place around the USA and across the globe. Sadly, thousands of people have lost their lives to systemic racial, gender, sexuality, judicial, and economic injustice. The few whose names are listed here represent the countless others lost before and since. Likewise, we can report but a few of the countless demonstrations for justice now taking place in our major cities, small towns, and suburbs.

To view the entire series of Rising Up for Justice! posts, insert “rising up” in the search bar above.

‘We’re not stopping’: Community organizers who spent much of 2020 marching and protesting are focusing on local policy changes for 2021

By Ricardo Torres, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

January 4, 2021

Terry Thompson and protesters take a kneww
Terry Thompson, center, with Salt and Light Christian group from Oak Creek Assembly of God church is joined by others as they took a knee, the opposite knee the Minneapolis officer used in the death of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer. They were protesting police brutality during a peaceful prayer event at Washington Park in Milwaukee on Sunday, May 31, 2020.

For months in the summer, communities across America faced a racial reckoning and millions took to the streets demanding changes to policing, education, housing and other facets of life. 

As the cold and holiday season rolled in, Wisconsin marches got smaller and, in some places, less frequent. But the activists and community leaders haven’t stopped their work…

Kenosha: Working with law enforcement and children

Bennett-Bey started the year as a normal mom and Army veteran and ended the year on the cover of Time magazine for her activism in Kenosha after the Jacob Blake shooting…

Bennett-Bey said community organizing “chose” her and she’s leaned into that, starting a group called United As One, the goal of which is to help children and those struggling with finding employment…

Community Task Force MKE: Keeping the dialogue going

When mass protests and demonstrations happened in response to the death of George Floyd — who died after Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee against Floyd’s neck for at least eight minutes while Floyd said he couldn’t breathe — Vaun Mayes and organizers with Community Task Force MKE were ready with proposals for police reform in Milwaukee…

Having a better working relationship with the Milwaukee Police Department will also be important in the upcoming year, Mayes said. Like Bennett-Bey in Kenosha, he hopes Community Task Force MKE can be involved in situations where police might traditionally be called…

The Peoples Revolution: Putting ‘the people’ in office

A group that’s been one of the most active in organizing marches is The Peoples Revolution — whose organizers plan on taking their agenda from the streets to public office.  

Mariah Smith, an organizer, said there are several people with the group who are contemplating a run for local office…

Wauwatosa: ‘Tosa moms’ taking the lead

While the movement for racial equality and equity has been filled with the spirit of a younger, up-and-coming generation, in Wauwatosa, parents have also been major contributors pushing for change in their community.  

The group Tosa Together has been pushing for more inclusion in the City of Wauwatosa, Wauwatosa School District and the police department. In the upcoming year, organizer Katherine Riebe said the group is planning to focus on police transparency and accountability, particularly at the highest levels of the department…

Burlington: ‘The fight is not just in the city’

While much of the focus on racial equity has been focused on cities, the Burlington Coalition for Dismantling Racism worked to add an anti-racism policy to the Burlington Area School District. 

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