Protest organizers Frank Nitty and Khalil Coleman discuss how long the protests will go on and how they’ve reached all races and ages. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Across America, protesters are demonstrating against the death of George Floyd, a black man who died with his neck pinned under the knee of since-fired Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. Floyd called out for his mother. He gasped the words: “I can’t breathe.” He was accused of trying to buy a pack of cigarettes with a counterfeit $20 bill.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is covering local demonstrations and fallout and will update this story throughout the day.

Read full coverage of the weekend’s protests here. Highlights: NFL star and Wisconsin native J.J. Watt clapped back at Twitter respondent who suggested Watt would never kneel for the national anthem. An attorney in Shorewood was charged with a hate crime after spitting in a Black teen’s face. The president of Epic Systems singled out employees of color in an email warning against a virtual lockout.

Some background:

Milwaukee has a long and proud history of civil rights activism against police brutality and racial inequity. In 1967, demonstrators took to the streets for 200 consecutive days, marching until Milwaukee passed one of the strongest fair housing laws in the U.S. Yet, it remains one of the country’s most segregated metro areas.

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12:58 p.m.: Common Council exploring 10% cut in police budget

Eleven members of the Milwaukee Common Council are directing the city’s budget director to create a model 2021 budget in which the Milwaukee Police Department would lose 10% of the funding it was budgeted this year. 

“Our citizens have been marching in the streets for the past several weeks demanding change,” Ald. José Pérez, the measure’s lead sponsor, said in a statement Monday. “They deserve to be heard. If adopted, this proposal will begin a community discussion of how we could make that change.”

The Police Department budget, at $297.4 million this year, is nearly half of city departmental funds from the general-purpose budget.  

The city will adopt the 2021 budget later this year, so this proposal will not determine what the police budget will be next year.  

Read the full story.

— Alison Dirr

10:50 a.m.: Trainer whose ‘I can’t breathe’ workout went viral has been fired

A trainer at Anytime Fitness in Wauwatosa has been fired after they drew and posted an “I can’t breathe” workout that garnered national backlash

The workout, which was posted on a dry-erase board at the gym, says “I can’t breathe,” and then “… don’t you dare lay down.” 

The workout also included a drawing of a person, drawn with black marker, in a kneeling position. “I can’t breathe” were among the final words of George Floyd, who died after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for 8 minutes, 46 seconds. Floyd’s death has prompted nationwide protests to call for racial justice and an end to police brutality. The owner and staff of the gym have all volunteered for anti-racism training the company is now providing, according to a statement.

Read the full story.

— Evan Casey

7:30 a.m.: These two men have been at the forefront of Milwaukee protests

Frank Sensabaugh (also known as Frank Nitty), 39, has become one of the more distinctive faces — and voices — of the movement in Milwaukee. His long dreadlocks are hard to miss, along with his oversized baseball cap worn just so to the side. His Facebook Live posts, direct from the protest front lines, draw thousands of viewers.

But just out of camera view is Khalil Coleman, 33, the key organizer of the largest local daily demonstrations that erupted after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Coleman directs medics, security and traffic control and makes sure a certain order holds.

“For the 10 hours that we’re out there every day, people feel a sense of freedom,” Coleman said. “They feel a sense of togetherness, a sense of love, something that they never felt before.”

Since May 29, they have been at the center of protests in the Milwaukee area. Their marches are designed to instill passion and energy, and connect with many who have lost patience with waiting for change to come through measured means.

Read full story.

— Bill Glauber


5:15 p.m.: 80 people protest racism in Waukesha march

In the city of Waukesha, about 80 people took to the streets to protest racism in the criminal justice system following the death of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer.

“We saw a really strong showing in protests in Waukesha before and I want to keep that going,” said Ben Strong, who organized the protests. 

He said he plans to organize a weekly Waukesha protest until more changes are made in the criminal justice system.

“I think it’s really important for the people over in Milwaukee that this happens in Waukesha because, if you keep having coverage of the Milwaukee protests people in Waukesha are going to feel disconnected from it because it’s not out on their doorstep,” Strong said. 

Protesters walked around Waukesha from the City Hall to the Police Department. At the Police Department, protesters kneeled for nine minutes to honor George Floyd. 

Then Strong asked police officers to march back to the City Hall with them. 

“I ask you to march with us to show that you value the members of your community more than the system that suppresses them,” Strong said. 

One officer, Lt. Chad Pergande, decided to walk with them. 

Pergande refused an interview, but he did speak with protesters while marching. He told protesters that the Police Department tries to eradicate racism by hiring the right people and provide bias training. Protesters challenged the officer to do more to combat racism and avoid using force. 

As protesters walked, many cars honked in support. People came out of their homes to observe and some cheered on the march. 

“It is amazing to see,” Damien Meredith said as he watched protesters pass his home. “It shows everybody is taking notice that there is a problem that needs to change.” 

Helen Boudry marched with her dad on Sunday afternoon. 

“I think it’s important to show that this isn’t just an issue in cities, it’s an issue in all of America,” Boudry said. “Even though we’re in a small town like Waukesha, the cause can still spread and our voice can still be heard.” 

Two individuals followed the protesters, one holding a sign that said, “Support good cops.” The two people refused to be named but said they were there not as a counter-protest but just to remind people about good cops.   

– Jordyn Noennig

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