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Through Community-Based Change, El Pueblo MKE Hopes To Create A More Socially Just Future

el_pueblo.jpg
Sergio Flores
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Holding signs of "Las Vidas Negras Importan", which means "Black Lives Matter" in Spanish, members of El Pueblo MKE lead a march from the south side of Milwaukee across the 16th street bridge.

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.

El Pueblo MKE was founded to galvanize the Hispanic and Latino community on the south side to reflect upon racial justice. The group is dedicated to igniting community-based change to create a more socially just future.

Alan Yohualli Chavoya, a son of immigrant parents and PH.D., student at Northwestern University, is a member of El Pueblo MKE. He says the group started when he and a few others were attending some of the first protests in late May and they weren’t seeing very many Latino participants.

“We were wondering why, what’s going on there. So, several of us who identify as Latinx were like, ‘OK, let’s get something going, let’s lead a march’,” says Chavoya.

So they organized a march on June 6 that started at Mitchell Domes park and crossed the 16th Street bridge. They chose this bridge because of its connection to the 1967 housing marches in Milwaukee.

“In '67, there was a group of demonstrators who crossed that bridge from the south to the north side and once they crossed that bridge, they were met with violence from white people and police. It was one of the symbolic gestures that we wanted to highlight because we feel that many people don’t recognize the richness of Milwaukee’s history with regards to different movements for different forms of justice,” he says.

Chavoya says the purpose of this march wasn't to compare the struggles of Latinx and Black Americans but to help teach people that the liberation of Black people is not just an issue for Black people.

“In the south side, we tend to categorize it as many Latinx folk and they seem to think there are no Black Latinx people. They seem to think that Latinx only means brown,” he says.

El Pueblo MKE has stayed on the streets, but it's also focusing on COVID-19 since the south side has been hit the hardest by the pandemic. The group is making information available in Spanish, spreading it on social media, and connecting with restaurant and bar owners in the south side to make sure they're committed to health guidelines such as mask requirements.

In no particular order, El Pueblo MKE has the following demands:

Chavoya says this movement won't succeed if it’s just people from the south side or the north side. He invites people from across Milwaukee to get involved because “everyone has a responsibility here.”

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