By Al King
MICAH, (Milwaukee Inner city Congregations Allied for Hope) held a press conference and protest earlier this week at the construction site of the Westlawn Project, located at 64th and Silver Spring in Milwaukee. The purpose of the demonstration was to declare a “State of Emergency’ for Milwaukee’s Black residents.
MICAH’s president Rev. Willie Brisco says, “We want to send a message to our city officials and councilpersons that this is a MORAL issue.”
MICAH is calling on all of its collaborative partners and the concerned citizens of Milwaukee to stand up and declare a “State of Emergency” in this city. Milwaukee is among the worst cities in the nation in segregation, poverty, unemployment, Black male unemployment, Black infant mortality rates, minority business ownership, Black male incarceration, education, and the list goes on and on.
When you take a careful look at the stats you would assume that they were reflective of a third world country. This city is in a crisis and is headed toward devastation with the passing of a state budget that is going to place an even heavier burden on Milwaukee.
MICAH selected the Westlawn Project site to further demonstrate how construction projects are going on in predominantly Black neighborhoods but there are little efforts made to hire minorities on such projects. Rev. Brisco stated that this project is estimated at being a $121 million project and slated for four years where the dollar amount will certainly increase over this time span.
“The games involved with minority participation contracting percentages must stop. The game where a White male owned contractor gives his wife a 51 percent share on paper to make the company achieve the minority owned requirement must stop. Not when you have unemployment for Black males surpassing 50 percent, and some numbers even show it being 60 percent unemployment”. Rev. Brisco stated.
MICAH met with Mayor Barrett on Wednesday, the day after the protest and rally, and a series of future meetings are scheduled.
“The bottom line is that we will not rest on this issue. We will not stop demanding that these unemployment statistics decrease. We will not stand by and continue to watch others come into our communities and work on projects that we are not on as well.” Rev. Brisco stated.
In its recent report Milwaukee Today, the NAACP confirmed that the Milwaukee African American population is being severely affected by a vicious cycle of segregation, unemployment, poverty and incarceration. MICAH is calling for all social justice groups and supporters to get involved with the efforts that work to change these injustices for the better.
The 23 year old organization is determined to help make a difference in Milwaukee representing 39 congregations throughout Milwaukee.