It was a busy day for the Milwaukee Common Council. At a (virtual) meeting on Tuesday, the Council held every mayoral cabinet appointment, demanded systemic change in all city departments, went ahead with the process of diverting 10 percent of the nearly $300 million Milwaukee Police Department budget to other services, and even gave a green light to more sidewalk and street dining.
The Council also approved a so-called “I can’t breathe” resolution, which “[urges] the Fire and Police Commission to adopt a policy addressing any ‘I can’t breathe’ plea by an individual who is in police custody.”
The words “I can’t breathe” were among the final words said by George Floyd and others as they were being murdered by police officers. The words have since become a familiar chant at protests in Milwaukee and across the country.
“Too many times in the recent past have we seen African-American men and women lose their lives during police interactions after stating that they can’t breathe,” said resolution sponsor Ald. Russell W. Stamper, II in a press release. “Adoption of the policy by the Fire and Police Commission will be a positive effort in fighting against police misconduct.”
Here’s the full press release:
Council approves “I can’t breathe” resolution
Today, the full Common Council voted unanimously in approving a resolution urging the Fire and Police Commission to adopt a policy addressing any “I can’t breathe” plea by an individual who is in police custody.
The resolution was introduced by Alderman Russell W. Stamper, II in response to the recent death of George Floyd as well as previous deaths of Manuel Ellis, Eric Garner and Derek Williams who all stated they were having trouble breathing during interactions with police officers prior to passing away.
Alderman Stamper proposed the resolution in light of the recent protests against police corruption. “Too many times in the recent past have we seen African-American men and women lose their lives during police interactions after stating that they can’t breathe,” said Alderman Stamper. “Adoption of the policy by the Fire and Police Commission will be a positive effort in fighting against police misconduct.”
“I want to offer thanks to my colleagues in approving the resolution,” he said. “With the resolution, the Fire and Police Commission is now encouraged to work with the police department to enact a policy to help remedy loss of life due to excessive force.”
“The resolution requires policy changes that will help protect our citizens, especially people of color who are disproportionately impacted by the systemic issues that have led to excessive force by a police officer resulting in death,” Alderman Stamper said.
Co-sponsors of the legislation are Alderwoman Milele A. Coggs, Alderman Khalif J. Rainey, Alderwoman Chantia Lewis, Alderwoman Nikiya Dodd, Alderman Ashanti Hamilton, Alderman Jose G. Perez, Alderman Nik Kovac, Alderman Cavalier Johnson, Alderman Robert J. Bauman, Alderman Mark A. Borkowski, Alderwoman Marina Dimitrijevic, and Alderwoman JoCasta Zamarripa.