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Concerns, possible benefits of the Republican National Convention potentially coming to Milwaukee

Maayan Silver
Milwaukee skyline

If chosen by Republicans over Nashville, Milwaukee will host the 2024 Republican National Convention.

A unanimous Milwaukee Common Council vote earlier this month approved a framework agreement that was then signed by Mayor Cavalier Johnson. Still, not everyone is onboard, including several labor and advocacy organizations representing workers, immigrants and communities of color.

READ: Milwaukee city council, mayor sign off on city hosting Republican National Convention — if chosen

"We would be giving red carpet treatment to a party that has been so hostile to immigrants, people of color and that has really moved beyond the normal kind of status quo, political party politics. It's a tremendous offense to the people of Milwaukee," Christine Neumann-Ortiz, the executive director of Voces de la Frontera, says.

Neumann-Ortiz contends that since 2016, President Trump has opened a pandora's box for the GOP that makes it OK to openly embrace white supremacy and violence.

Milwaukee Commissioner of City Development Lafayette Crump said that if Milwaukee gets picked, there's really no better way for protesters to have their opinions heard. But Neumann-Ortiz says that comment is naive. She says there is nothing celebratory about people having to protest for their rights in a situation that is quite dangerous.

"Given the platform of the Republican Party, I don't see that level of goodwill or interest on the part of the people who are coming. The largest problem, I think, the biggest problem is not actually going to be the police. It's actually the base of the Republican Party," she says.

Local Republican leadership says the Republican National Committee will likely decide which city will host the event by the end of the month.

Mayor Cavalier Johnson thinks Milwaukee is the right city to host this event. "In 2020, we were selected to host the Democratic National Convention here in Milwaukee. The planning that went into that is still here, and it's on the shelf for us to execute in the city. We've also improved on a lot of the infrastructure that we needed in the city to host a convention of that size," he says.

Johnson says having prepared for the Democratic National Convention and all the work currently being done, like doubling in size the convention center and increasing the number of hotel spaces, Milwaukee will be a turnkey city and ready to host one of the largest political conventions in the United States.

While opponents of the Republic National Convention being hosted in Milwaukee point out concerns of welcoming a party that has allegedly ran on white supremacy, Johnson points out that a sizable number of people who work in tourism would benefit from the estimated $200 million economic impact in Milwaukee. He adds that much of those people who would benefit are Black and Latino.

And, while security will be a massive logistical undertaking, Johnson says there was the same concern for the Democratic National Convention. Right now, he says his focus is beating Nashville and bringing the convention here.

Johnson says the opportunity could mean a chance to address some of the acute financial issues that not only plague Milwaukee, but the communities around it. "It's especially time to revisit that if you're a city like Milwaukee bringing in major events that generate tons and tons of billions of dollars in tax revenue for Wisconsin. We need to see some of that back here because Milwaukee unfortunately is not in a competitive position with its other peers around the country," he says.

Maayan Silver has been a reporter with WUWM’s News Team since 2018.
Kobe Brown is WUWM's Eric Von fellow.
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