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Milwaukee Alliance Against Racist & Political Repression Advocates For Community Control Of Police

Courtest of Milwaukee Alliance Against Racist & Political Repression
Lauryn Cross (in red) leads a march demanding the elimination of the Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission and the creation of a Civilian Police Accountability Council.

After the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer in May, there's been an emergence of local activist groups in and around Milwaukee.

The recently refounded Milwaukee Alliance Against Racist & Political Repression (MAARPR) is advocating for community control of the police and working with the families of victims of police brutality in Wauwatosa known as Thee Three. They are also working towards ending prison profiteering, racist political repression, and economic injustice.

MAARPR holds weekly meetings, have planned rallies, and often holds art builds where they create banners and other art to be displayed at protests.

Lauryn Cross attended a conference for the National Alliance Against Racist & Political Repression last fall and when the protests began this summer, she decided to help create a chapter in Milwaukee. Johanna Geisler attended one of the first rallies held and has been a member since.

“I think that people who are less in touch with what’s been happening on the ground and what organizing has looked like in the past several months, I think they are surprised that there is a structured group that is having weekly meetings and is organizing and planning,” says Geisler.

MAARPR has two goals: removing Wauwatosa police officer Joseph Mensah from the police force and charging him in the deaths of Alvin Cole, Jay Anderson, and Antonio Gonzales; and eliminating the Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission and replacing it with a civilian-lead commission they call the Civilian Police Accountability Council (CPAC).

“Replacing what we currently have, which is a system where the accountability board is staffed with current and former police officers and firefighters, and replaced with a community elected group of civilians and community leaders to increase transparency and accountability,” explains Geisler.

With the emergence of new groups and focuses for activists across Milwaukee, MAARPR is trying to make connections across the community. “What that encompasses is having everyone at the table organizing but having it be principled to [the idea that] we’re all working to achieve the same common goal and we all need to be in communication,” says Cross.

That’s not always easy. Groups often splinter and individuals have different ideas of how to push the movement forward, but both Cross and Geisler say they are committed to working with others.

“When you realize this movement, this time I spend on logistics, this time I spend on organizing, it’s bigger than me, it’s bigger than my efforts. It’s about everyone getting justice,” says Cross. “Justice for one is justice for all.”  

Editor's note: In an earlier version on this story, WUWM incorrectly called the organization MAARP, rather than MAARPR. WUWM also updated the headline to say that the group is working towards community control of the police, rather than more civilian oversight.

Angelina Mosher Salazar joined WUWM in 2018 as the Eric Von Fellow. She was then a reporter with the station until 2021.
From 2020 to 2021, Jack was WUWM's digital intern and then digital producer.