It’s Going Down: #MilwaukeeUprising


Originally posted to It’s Going Down.

Download podcast here.

Milwaukee now joins the growing list of American cities to erupt after the fatal shooting of an African-American person at the hands of the police. The city, home to over half a million people, has a long history of poverty and racial segregation and has seen a steady attack on the poor and working class on everything from education, mass policing and incarceration, to jobs. On Saturday, August 13th, police pulled over two young men in their 20’s around 3:30 pm who ran from police; one was shot fatally several times, and was identified as 23 year old, Sylville K. Smith. According to police and the media, Smith was found with a semi-automatic handgun and was also killed by an African-American police officer.

In some ways, this makes the #MilwaukeeUprisings unlike some other rebellions, in that it grew out of a community response which began to grow shortly after the shooting, as opposed to mass anger building after the release of police video or a court verdict. In short, Smith’s death at the hands of the police seemed to signal a breaking point in working-class African-American neighborhoods for the anger and anxiety felt at a wider systems of domination and control that has now lead to the bringing in of the National Guard by the right-wing Governor, Scott Walker.

As more and more people amassed in the Milwaukee neighborhood of Sherman Park; some being encouraged to join the demonstrations after seeing it on social media, the crowd grew increasingly confrontational. Soon, a gas station was lit on fire, looting began, and clashes with the police erupted. People then grabbed bricks and broke up concrete and hurdled them at police. One report wrote:

[P]rotests turned to violent unrest Saturday night. One police officer was hospitalized after a brick was thrown through his windshield. Three others were hospitalized with unspecified injuries, but all were released by Sunday morning. Six buildings and several vehicles were burned, including a police car. Seventeen arrests were made, officials said.

Within the uprising, police arrested several people. From the Final Straw:

Sherman Park has been witness to increased tension with police and the growth of a community watch program called #WeAllWeGot. The riots that grew from the protests ended up smashing a police vehicle, burning vehicles (including a patrol car), torching a BMO bank and 4 other businesses, including a BP gas station that has been the site of previous tension. Organizers of the #WeAllWeGot group, a Black Power and police abolitionist group, is raising money for arrest support. You can donate at

In order to find out more about what is going down in Milwaukee, we caught up with “J” for an in-depth interview. J, an anarchist and member of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), is born and raised in Milwaukee, and has been reporting live from the streets during the past two nights. J talks about the initial uprising, the racial and class dynamics in the city, the history of de-industrialization and outsourcing that drives unemployment and mass incarceration, racial segregation and the racial makeup of the city, as well as a blow by blow account of the uprising. J speaks to attempts by politicians to calm the riots down, the forming of assemblies of residents to talk about the revolt, and the important of holding space during these uprisings. Lastly, J gives some thoughts on anarchist organizing and infrastructure and its importance and power during an uprising.

Originally posted to It’s Going Down.