The Milwaukee Bucks went on strike during their playoff game yesterday, protesting the Kenosha police shooting of Jacob Blake on Sunday.
The Bucks’ players issued a statement demanding the police officers responsible for the shooting be held accountable. They also called for the state legislature to take up a package of police reform bills next week.
Milwaukee Bucks players George Hill and Sterling Brown spoke to reporters Wednesday evening backed by their teammates.
“Despite the overwhelming plea for change, there has been no action, so our focus today cannot be on basketball.”
That’s Sterling Brown, who plays shooting guard and small forward for the Milwaukee Bucks, speaking to reporters on Wednesday evening.
Brown’s teammate, point guard George Hill, demanded greater accountability from state lawmakers and law enforcement.
“For this to occur, it is imperative for the Wisconsin state legislature to reconvene after months of inaction, and take up meaningful measures to address issues of police accountability, brutality, and criminal justice reform,” says Hill.
Next Monday, legislators will be called into a special legislative session to take up police reform bills. The state Legislature has not passed a bill since April 15th.
“We must begin the long but important path towards ensuring our state and our country starts-starts to live up to our promise of equity and justice.”
That’s Governor Evers calling the special session three days ago. While special sessions require lawmakers to convene, it does not force them to act. A previous session in April lasted mere moments, as Republican leaders gaveled in and immediately gaveled out.
Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes, during the announcement of the special session, criticized Wisconsin Republicans for their inaction during a time of crisis.
“Unfortunately, our legislative leaders, the majority party, the republicans in legislature, although this is not political, these are facts, have done nothing,” says Barnes.
In June, the Wisconsin Legislative Black Caucus asked Governor Tony Evers to call a special session on police reform on June 19 – or Juneteenth, but the Governor did not do so.
On Monday, Legislative Black Caucus Chair LaKeshia Myers told W-O-R-T she was managing her expectations for the sessions.
“I’m hopeful, but I know that there is the possibility that it is unlikely. Scott Fitzgerald has said on many occasions that he is not interested in coming back, to push legislation unless it has to do with the mask order.”
The nine proposed pieces of legislation include many reforms protesters are calling for.
Two of the proposed reforms prohibit the use of choke-holds and no-knock warrants.
Another bill would establish a uniform standard for use of force across the state, and make preserving life the primary duty of police, with deadly force only being used as a last resort. The same piece of legislation would also protect officers who report violations of these standards.
Officers would be required to complete eight hours of de-escalation and use of force options training annually, with increased standards for police job applications.
One piece of legislation would also make it easier to sue people who unnecessarily call the police to harass another person.
Other reforms focus on increasing police transparency to the public.
And another measure would create a 1 million dollar grant fund for community support groups to help mediate conflict and prevent future violence.
The legislature is slated to convene at noon next Monday.