“The past four months have shed a light on the ongoing racial injustices facing our African American communities. Citizens around the country have used their voices and platforms to speak out against these wrongdoings.
“Over the last few days in our home state of Wisconsin, we’ve seen the horrendous video of Jacob Blake being shot in the back seven times by a police officer in Kenosha, and the additional shooting of protestors. Despite the overwhelming plea for change, there has been no action, so our focus today cannot be on basketball.
“When we take the court and represent Milwaukee and Wisconsin, we are expected to play at a high level, give maximum effort and hold each other accountable. We hold ourselves to that standard, and in this moment, we are demanding the same from our lawmakers and law enforcement.
“We are calling for justice for Jacob Blake and demand the officers be held accountable. For this to occur, it is imperative for the Wisconsin State Legislature to reconvene after months of inaction and take up meaningful measures to address issues of police accountability, brutality and criminal justice reform. We encourage all citizens to educate themselves, take peaceful and responsible action, and remember to vote on Nov. 3.”
It is notable that the statement called out the Wisconsin State Legislature, which has been quietly on a strike of their own. Led by Robin Vos, Scott Fitzgerald, and Jim Steineke, the Republican-majority Assembly has done...nothing. For a long time.
NEW: With their brave, historic protest, the Milwaukee Bucks let the world know what we’ve known here for months:— Dan Shafer (@DanRShafer) August 27, 2020
The inaction of the Wisconsin State Legislature is beyond unacceptable.
Let's recombobulate: #BlackLivesMatter #ChangeTheNarrativehttps://t.co/S8IcUUfiS2
Well, not nothing. Speaker Vos did find time to blame Wisconsin governor Tony Evers for the death of two protestors (rather than the shooter, an Illinois teen who joined a white supremacist militia and is currently charged with homicide).
But in terms of legislating, the core function of the legislature, the State Assembly has been inactive for over four months, and the Bucks called them out for it. Not only did the inaction of the legislature leave problems with excessive force in policing unaddressed, but countless other issues, including unemployment, election infrastructure, and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, where Speaker Vos himself advocated for in-person voting during a special election in April (rather than find ways to promote absentee voting) while cosplaying as a surgeon.
No matter your political affiliation, or whether you agree with or oppose their policies and perspectives, the Wisconsin Assembly has been held hostage. Neither the executive branch nor the judiciary has the ability to write new laws: only the legislature can do that. In order for that to happen, the legislature has to meet, and current Wisconsin Assembly leadership has avoided meeting at all costs. They even adjourned a special session (called by Governor Tony Evers, a Democrat) seventeen seconds after opening it in order to avoid doing anything about holding an election during a pandemic.
Another special session was called for August 31, by the Governor, to address policing accountability and transparency. This is not just desperately needed for our communities to exercise appropriate oversight of law enforcement’s use of force, but the Assembly can focus on the exact thing the Bucks went on strike for in the first place. Here’s a sample of what could be on the docket:
Establishes statewide use of force standards for all law enforcement agencies that includes that the primary duty of law enforcement is to preserve the life of all individuals; that deadly force is to be used only as the last resort; that officers should use skills and tactics that minimize the likelihood that force will become necessary; that, if officers must use physical force, it should be the least amount of force necessary to safely address the threat; and that law enforcement officers must take reasonable action to stop or prevent any unreasonable use of force by their colleagues;
Prohibits discipline of a law enforcement officer for reporting a violation of a law enforcement agency’s use of force policy; and
Requires the Law Enforcement Standards Board (LESB) to develop a model use of force policy for law enforcement agencies.
What can I do?
In the long-term, know that every seat in the Wisconsin State Assembly is open for the November election. However, in the short-term, salient action that you can take to support the Milwaukee Bucks’ statement is to contact members of the Assembly and implore them to show up to work on Monday, August 31.
If you live in Sturtevant, Union Grove, or Burlington, you’re in Speaker Robin Vos’ district. You can contact his office here.
If you live in Oconomowoc, Watertown, or Juneau, you’re in Senator Scott Fitzgerald’s district. You can contact his office here.
If you live in Hobart, Seymour, or Black Creek, you’re in Representative Jim Steineke’s district. You can contact his office here.
You do not need to do anything more than demand that they take the special session seriously, and that they bring legislation to the floor. The Milwaukee Bucks did their part to get attention on the Assembly. Now it’s time for you to do yours.
UPDATE: Employees of the NBA are using today to do exactly what they should be doing, and what you should be doing.
Employees sent a letter to Adam Silver and Mark Tatum saying, in part: “We believe the NBA, its leadership, and the Board of Governors unequivocally have the leverage to do more to directly address and combat police brutality and systemic racism in this country.” https://t.co/dgFLiuqdZY— Malika Andrews (@malika_andrews) August 28, 2020
The special session is set to open on Monday. This is the last time you’ll have an opportunity to contact the leadership in the Wisconsin State Assembly, and hold them accountable. Why should you do your job if they won’t do theirs?
UPDATE: Well, well, well. We have our first step, albeit a small one, in the right direction.
It’s not perfect, but it’s something. If any of you have managed to contact your representation in the Wisconsin State Assembly, thank you. If you want to continue pushing them in the right direction, keep contacting them. Tell them what they need to do, and do not stop telling them.
UPDATE: It looks as if the work is not yet done, since the agenda being set by the leadership in the State Assembly is...perhaps misguided.
This is a trap for Milwaukee. The first item is already required, the second is standard operating procedure and the third would prevent city from ever cutting budget. https://t.co/tfWkzFSdPL— Jeramey Jannene (@compujeramey) August 26, 2020
Getting legislators talking on the record in an official session is a start. As to what they’re talking about, that’s another matter entirely. Find your representative and state senator and let them know; the organizer of the bill package is Van Wanggaard; his district covers Burlington, Union Grove, and Twin Lakes, and you can reach his office here.
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