If you’ve witnessed the protests around Milwaukee in the wake of George Floyd being killed by a now-former Minneapolis police officer, you may have noticed something: young people are a fixture.
On Tuesday, some of those young people set out to march from Milwaukee to Madison.
Before the start of the kickoff event, late rapper Tupac Shakur’s song "Keep Your Head Up" blared from speakers as the young people got their backdrop of signs ready. Those signs said things like “no justice, no peace" and "Black trans lives matter" and "no police welcome here.”
Tatiana Washington is 19 years old and the executive director of an organization called 50 Miles More. It’s behind the march to Madison.
“It’s not enough to just say we support Black lives. We see the little murals around the country of like Black Lives Matter, that’s not enough. We need policy that’s actually going to do something to help liberate us. And that means not having rubber bullets and tear gas at protests when we’re mourning a Black man being killed. That means having schools without metal detectors and without police. It means so many things. It means making sure we have a $15 minimum wage. It means making sure you have criminal justice reform. It means so much. It’s not enough to just say I’m against racism. You have to step up and actually contribute to liberation for all,” Washington says.
The official list of demands is long, but Washington says that if she had to choose one outcome, it’s simple.
“I think the biggest thing is to listen to Black women. Listen to Black LGBTQ+ community because that means if you do that, we will have all these policies enacted right. This isn’t something that we just randomly thought of. We did a lot of listening. This is something we want and we need. And if we listen to the people who have been leading this movement, life, in general, would just be a better place,” Washington says.
For 18-year-old Zephaniah Eiland, who says she’ll join with marchers daily but will not stay the night, it’s about justice – not just in Wisconsin.
“Charging the officers who were involved in killing Breonna Taylor as well as many other innocent Black men and women who have been killed at the hands of police officers as well as white supremacists,” Eiland says.
Like with the other protests these days, allies — people pushing for Black lives to matter — were also present at the kick-off. Erick Torres-Gonzalez is 19.
“I think one thing I would hope to get out this march is a conversation for all of the actions, all the calls to action, hopefully all of them get met,” Torres-Gonzalez says.
Marchers are expected to take four days to get to Madison, which means these young people and their demands will arrive at the state Capitol on the Fourth of July.