The People of the Protest: In Their Own Words

Tuesday, while the sun still beat down, we asked marchers why they were there, what they think will happen next, and what they hope the protests will achieve. Here’s what they told us.

Tuesday’s protest of thousands in Milwaukee might have been the biggest one yet.

Throughout the day, the hottest day in Milwaukee so far in 2020, it was peaceful. It was loud. And it was mobile, traversing more than four miles in three hours after the march started in Humboldt Park at 1 p.m. and reached the Third Ward by 4 o’clock.

We asked marchers why they were there,
What they think will happen next,
And what they hope the protests will achieve.


Alice Young

Alice Young, second from right,  is from Milwaukee, and she shared her thoughts on one of the most popular posters/phrases seen at protests nationwide. In this photo she is surrounded by family members, from left, LaVera Binford, LaToya Claybrooks and Janylah Burnely.

What “White Silence Is Violence” means to me is that wrong is wrong regardless of the color of your skin. If you can see that this black man [George Floyd] was killed needlessly and had done nothing wrong, you should be disturbed too. That’s a life.

 

White silence doesn’t mean someone who sympathizes with us but just stays at home. It’s the white people who turn a blind eye.

 

You don’t feel no sympathy for this life?

 

The other day on social media, I saw someone say “Oh another one gone.” Did they mean another man? Another life? Another God-fearing child?

 

No, they meant just another black man.


Andy Lira

Andy Lira is a 19-year-old from Milwaukee. He marched Tuesday carrying a sign calling for the elimination of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

There’s a lot of police brutality going on, especially toward black people. This has been going on for two centuries. It’s about time something changes.

 

There’s plenty that has to happen.

 

The cops that do these things, they have to punish them.

 

To begin with, they need to do something about the cops beating people. I feel like they need better training.


Gabriella Castillo

Gabriella Castillo is an 18-year-old from Milwaukee. She attended Tuesday’s protest with her boyfriend, Andy Lira, and her sister.

Normal citizens, if you did something, your record is public. With cops, nobody knows.

 

Our track record is online. Why isn’t theirs?

 

We need a policy for people with track records. They need an excessive brutality policy, something for someone with a lot of complaints.


Olivia Gonzalez

Olivia Gonzalez is from Whitefish Bay. She was one of dozens of people distributing water and snacks along Tuesday’s protest route.

Other voices need to be heard. It’s not my story to tell.

 

I have rooted white privilege because of the community I grew up in, which is 88% white, even though I am Hispanic.

 

I can use my privilege to augment other people’s stories.


Jack Geisler

Jack Geisler is a 66-year-old from Brookfield. He took a break from Tuesday’s march in the shade near Water Street in the Third Ward while one of his daughters used a restroom. 

Thanks to my daughters, I’ve grown up a bit. 

I used to look at these situations where police had questionable actions and tended to side with police automatically.

 

But my youngest daughter is a social worker. She’s been on me for a long time. This George Floyd thing was beyond the pale.

 

I used to say, “Let the courts play it out.” That’s how the justice system works. But there’s no trial needed on this one.

 

In large part, I’m here to protect my daughters. My ultimate goal would be to stop the endless violence that seems to be perpetual. But I guess that’s what endless means.


Tori George

Tori George, of Milwaukee, left, wants more people to understand “Our skin is not a threat.” She spoke with MilMag while taking a break in the shade along North Water Street in the Third Ward with Atiera Hoemke and Olivia Hoemke.

When I was in fifth grade, someone made a joke “We can’t play hide and seek with you. We can’t find you in the dark.” Someone else said that “When God made black people, he left you all out in the sun too long.”

 

That sticks with me.

 

It’s still relevant. There’s still people who think like that, somehow. I never got an apology for anything.

 

We want it (racism) to be over. It’s been going on for too long.

 

These protests can help people understand.


Joe

Joe, who did not want to share his last name, was a Cuban refugee who grew up in Milwaukee. He has lived across the U.S. and now has been living back in West Allis for only three months.

Because this matters.

 

I was a refugee from Cuba during the proxy war between Russia and the U.S.

 

I watched the 1968 riots in Milwaukee from my window. This does seem similar.

 

There was a lot of turmoil in the ’60s; you had the Vietnam War.

 

Now, I hope there’s monumental changes in this country. I want the entire system to change: a more open society, more inclusiveness, free health care, everything Bernie Sanders was talking about.

 

We need to vote all of Congress and the Senate voted out, except maybe Bernie Sanders.

 

The old guard has to go. There should be term limits, a peaceful revolution in this country.

 

The average American has lost their voice in Washington.

 

This state needs to be turned over [with] more representation. I’m tired of old white men and old white women telling us how to live our lives.

Comments

comments

Adam is a journalist who recently returned to his Wisconsin home after graduating from Drake University in December 2017. He interned with MilMag in the summer of 2015 and has been a continual contributor ever since. Follow him on social media @Could_Be_Rogan