Todd Stoner and Anthony D Williams Jr discuss the importance of Occupy Milwaukee and why Milwaukee as a community is crucial to this movement.
Why is Occupy Milwaukee important to you both?
Anthony B. Williams: “It’s a way to bring light on a touchy subject that’s been going on in America for centuries. It didn’t just start.”
Williams says “The 99 percent will no longer stand for the things that have been going on in America that have brought us tot where we are right now as far as a recession.
Todd Stoner sees Occupy Wall Street as an opportunity to educate the public about inequality, corruption and the connection between “big business, big money and politics.”
“It’s working. We have wide support despite what you can see on corporate media, the vast majority of the people in Milwaukee agree that things are messed up. That’s there’s far too much money in the hands of the one percent. And that we the 99 percent need more of a voice.”
Income inequality and joblessness should be at “the forefront of the media” says Stoner. He sees Occupy Milwaukee is one way of doing that.
Williams says Milwaukee is the number one most segregated city in America and poverty place a “huge role” in that segregation. “All the poor people are in one place. All the rich people are in another place.”
Williams says That disconnect between rich and poor makes Milwaukee a “perfect place” for this movement to show the impact that has. The impact of the one percent owning all the money are all around Milwaukee: teen pregnancy, HIV/AIDS “all the things that are continuously holding us down….It all goes back to the one percent owning the money and the 99 percent just kind of being like ‘oh, wait for that shit to trickle down’”.
Stoner says the poorer zip codes in Milwaukee have a higher infant mortality rate than the Gaza strip. A quarter of a mile away from that extreme poverty you have homes for millionaires. One in four children in Milwaukee go to bed hungry according to Stoner.
The first day of Occupy Milwaukee attracted a diverse crowd of 3,000 people. But sustaining that excitement will be a challenge. Williams is confident the movement is up to meet that challenge because of the diversity of support “all races, all ages”
“What happened in Madison was a huge showing of what people power can do” says Stoner. “That kicked off this concept of resistance, of protest that has spread throughout the country and in particular of occupation. We occupied the Capitol in Madison for about a month.” from there it spread throughout the state and the country “and now the world”.
The occupation of Madison “was a beautiful blueprint on actually how to show you what the power of the people can do.” says Williams.
Stoner: “The base that came out of Madison were middle class white families that had been hurt by Scott Walker. The poor have always been poor and Occupy Milwaukee is not a Democrat vs. Republican think. This is a mass of people who are against capital controlling our lives and the centralization of wealth. And the diversity you can see here yesterday shows that difference. People are coming out from poor areas of town who have been marginalized and put down for decades and centuries and are becoming part of the occupy movement. And that is a very big difference of what happened in Madison.” “It’s difficult and challenging to get people who have always been put down to come out, but the occupy movement is appealing to that base. I think that’s really powerful and if that were to continue this could turn into a large uprising to really bring about change in our country and the world. ”
Williams: “Middle class and upper middle class, they weren’t effected as the lower class and below poverty. So now they’re on a level of discomfort. They’re ready to join poverty and all fight one. And I think that’s extremely important, although I wish the middle-class and the upper-middle-class would have been there before they started losing their jobs, but I definitely understand that it is important that we do fight together. That the unions fight with the poor, the unemployed and the under-employed… everyone has to fight together for us to actually have an impact on the community.” ” I think MIlwaukee can really make a statement.”
Stoner: “In Madison again, we were attacking Scott Walker and his bill. Here’ we’re attacking We Energies, we’re attacking Chase bank, we’re attacking big business and capital that control those politicians. And they control Scott Walker just as much as they control the democrat. We’re going after who is really in control, that’s big business and capitol who have marginalized the poor and have centralized wealth in an unbelievable way. And that’s again where we hope this will continue to go which is taking the fight to really who are in charge and that’s capitol and big business.
Williams: “getting to the root of the problem.”