The streets are filled with people, and our spirits are strong. We are in the midst of one of the largest civil rights demonstration this country has ever seen, and Milwaukee is certainly no slouch in that arena. Every day, many separate marches gather at meeting points, joining to form a megazord of bravery and perseverance.
But what happens when heavy-handed police officers spray protestors with tear gas and arrest them? What about when lawyers in Shorewood spit on black teens, or the police accuse a water bottle of being a Molotov cocktail? Defense is needed, and backup is provided in droves by people with likeminded goals and ideas. Here are three Milwaukee organizations doing the work.
The youth have made themselves very visible during the Milwaukee protests. Leaders Igniting Transformation organizes and promotes leadership in young people in an effort to engage them through a bold and proactive agenda. What started as a nonprofit in the fall of 2017 has blossomed into a strong political home for Milwaukee youth. LIT works tirelessly to help provide PPE for people during the pandemic, and also help to supply protestors with these items. They also provide information and resources for people who have been arrested. Recently, they circulated a petition to call off the national guard from descending on the peaceful protestors of Milwaukee. At the center of LIT’s mission is instilling a sense of leadership in youth, who will carry on the fight for equality.
Created by Black and Brown organizers in Milwaukee, the Milwaukee Freedom Fund is quite new. The fund was created to provide rapid financial and legal support to all protestors struggling for justice, and to serve as a response to lacking infrastructure. Organizers want to see residents supported as they assert their right to protest, and receive assistance should they be arrested—even if they are facing criminal charges. (The folks at MFF want it to be known that paying off tickets can be an admission of guilt, and can affect future employment and housing, etc.) This is only a small portion of what they do—they also provide resources for medics and support crews during the protest. They do not wish to center their voices as they are simply here for the people.
“Black women are the backbone of our communities, but they rarely ever get any love. Let’s put some love on them,” says the Facebook page of Love on Black Women. Shavonda Sisson founded Love on Black Women in February 2019, and has raised money as well as listened to the needs of Black women, helping them in many different facets. The service connects Black women and children to many resources and helps to get funds to them easier. Most recently, Sisson was in the news for being the one that helped track down Stephanie Rapkin, the Shorewood lawyer that spit on the child during the protests in front of the Metro Market. What started as simple GoFundMe has blossomed into a program that supports women in the community, and will continue to do so moving forward.