homeless people PROTEST "welfare reform" at US Governor's

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Sun, 16 Aug 1998 09:05:49 -0700 (PDT)


FWD  Reply to Workers World <ww@wwpublish.com>

-------------------------
Via Workers World News Service
Reprinted from the Aug.12, 1998
issue of Workers World newspaper
-------------------------

MILWAUKEE: HOMELESS PROTEST AT U.S. GOVERNOR'S CONFERENCE

By Phil Wilayto
Milwaukee, Wis.

When Milwaukee was chosen as the site for this year's
meeting of the National Governors' Association, things got a
lot tougher for the city's homeless. The police weren't
taking any chances on the national news media showing the
human toll of W-2, Wisconsin's welfare "reform" program that
has been touted as the national model.

So over the past month there has been a sharp increase in
police harassment and ticketing of the homeless.

"People have been arrested for sitting on the steps of the
library or eating their lunch in the park," said Adison
Hendree, a leader of the homeless advocacy group Repairers
of the Breach.

In response to this harassment, Hendree's organization
called for a protest. Organizers applied for and received a
permit, made up some signs and asked for support from other
organizations. On Aug. 1 they hit the streets.

Joining them were members of Milwaukee Peace Action, the
Socialist Party, Anti-Racist Action, the A Job Is A Right
Campaign and other groups--over 100 people in all.

The cops tried to limit the action. As soon as the
protesters got near the convention center, cops told them
they would not be allowed to demonstrate closer than across
the street. To emphasize that point, the police brought in
at least half a dozen wagons, unlocked the back doors and
brought out bundles of plastic handcuffs.

The cops' arrogance only made the protesters more
determined. Instead of following their original plan of
circling the center, they positioned themselves on the most
visible street and kept up a loud and militant presence all
morning.

In response to calls for support, officers from the local
NAACP came down to the picket line with a statement
demanding the police respect the group's right to
demonstrate. Calls of protest began coming in to police
headquarters from outside Milwaukee--including one from
Deirdre Griswold, editor of Workers World newspaper.

Homeless people are particularly vulnerable to police
harassment. But despite the presence of cops videotaping the
protest and repeatedly shooting pictures with telephoto
lenses, the homeless and their supporters stood their
ground.

While Gov. Tommy Thompson was inside extolling the
benefits of the "Wisconsin Miracle," the protesters outside
were exposing that miracle for the racist, anti-working-
class sham that it is.

                         - END -

(Copyright Workers World Service: Permission to reprint
granted if source is cited. For more information contact
Workers World, 55 W. 17 St., NY, NY 10011; via e-mail:
ww@workers.org. For subscription info send message to:
info@workers.org. Web: http://workers.org)

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