Hundreds of people turned out Wednesday for a protest at the Islamic Society on Milwaukee’s south side. Demonstrators spoke out against police brutality and the death of George Floyd, a black man who died May 25 at the hands of a white Minneapolis police officer.
Wednesday marked the sixth day of protests in Milwaukee. As the protest was about to get underway, a crowd poured into the parking lot of the Islamic Society of Milwaukee on South 13th Street. Many people carried signs that read “I Can’t Breathe” and “Black Lives Matter” as they prepared to march south to the airport.
Organizer Sumaya Addi noted that the crowd had no problem braving the sweltering conditions to show their support for the cause.
“We’re here. It’s 86 degrees outside. It’s humid. We’re all sweating wearing masks. We’re in the middle of a global pandemic. But, we’re here for a reason," Addi says. "We’re here for our voices to be heard and to tell our black community that we care for them and we will fight for them. If you look around you can see different people everywhere, different colors, different races, different religions. It doesn’t matter and we’re here to fight for them. They matter."
Addi says the system has to change, in order to prevent another incident of police brutality. She says police academies should adopt a different curriculum.
“Teach officers that how they react is how it’s going to play out. How they react in a situation. If you’re an angry cop coming to a guy, yelling at him, in his face, trivial things, there’s ways to deal with that,” she says.
Dozens of young people attended the protest, including 14-year-old Alondre Gilmore. He says he and several friends showed up because they want to make a difference.
“I’m here to tell black people that they’re not alone, and we got a voice as well as a lot of people out here. That’s why we came together,” Gilmore says.
Gilmore says it was upsetting, seeing the video of the Minneapolis police officer kneeling on the neck of George Floyd, who was lying face down on the cement in handcuffs. Floyd had been arrested on a forgery complaint.
“It made me feel like we are animals, trapped in a cage," Gilmore says. "And we can’t do nothin’ about it, but we’re going to do something about it."
Rayyana Hassan drove in from Brookfield for the protest. She believes sustained protests will go a long way toward reform.
“I think I’ve been to several protests this week already. I think I know that you have to keep doing this over and over again in order to see change," Hassan says. "So, that’s why we’re going to keep coming here and show that people want police brutality to end. We want to make sure that our voices are heard and that we’re truly making an impact here in our city."
More protests are scheduled for Thursday, including one that kicks off in Milwaukee’s Riverwest neighborhood. Another demonstration will take place in Greendale on Friday.