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Milwaukee Activists March In Immigration Action In Washington

Voces de la Frontera

More than 50 people attended a rally in front of the Mitchell Park Domes on the South side of Milwaukee Tuesday to send off immigrant activists and allies for a Wednesday march for immigration reform in Washington D.C.. They were part of a total of 200 families, some from each congressional district in Wisconsin, traveling to Washington to march in favor of ending abuse of immigrant workers and a direct path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States. Simultaneous rallies were held around Wisconsin to send off activists on the long bus ride to Washington. Activists planned to conduct a phone bank on the ride, encouraging Wisconsin voters to contact their Congress members to act on meaningful immigration reform. Once in D.C, activists planned to speak with their elected officials and meet with thousands of activists from around the country to march for justice for undocumented immigrants. Continue Reading →

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Busting Myths on $7.25 an Hour…An Uptake Leadership Profile: Veronica Mendez

Click on the Image of these Retail Cleaners in front of Kmart to Hear how they are Fighting for a Living Wage.

Veronica Mendez is a myth buster. Sadly, she says one of the biggest myths that needs busting is one of the myths Americans want to believe most about their country: The myth that if you work hard enough and long enough, you can succeed. Continue Reading →

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Decision Not To File Charges in Derek Williams Death Outrages Milwaukee Community

Activists protested Friday after a prosecutor refused to bring charges against Milwaukee police officers in the death of Derek Williams. Click on the photo to see the protest.

No criminal charges will be filed against three Milwaukee police officers found by an inquest jury to have failed to render necessary aid to Williams when he collapsed and died in the back of a squad car on July 6, 2011. The controversial death of Williams, a young father of three, has roiled police-community relations since the incident and community anger exploded after last week’s development. Continue Reading →

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Minnesota Gun Battle Breaks Out of Committee, Moves to House Floor

Battle Lines: Joe Olson, left, president of the MN Gun Owners Civil Rights Alliance, spars with Rep. Michael Paymar, D-St. Paul, chair of the House Public Safety Committee, after committee approval of a bill requiring background checks for gun buyers at gun shows. The battle over gun safety now moves to the full House.

A dramatically weakened gun-safety bill eked out a narrow escape from a Minnesota House committee Thursday, keeping the explosive issue of gun violence alive, ensuring that the Legislature will be asked to consider some tightening of Minnesota gun laws, and setting up contentious floor fights over the issue in the House in the weeks ahead. After two months of debate, the House Public Safety Committee, chaired by Rep. Michael Paymar, DFL-St. Paul, passed a bill including a softened requirement for background checks on buyers at gun shows. The narrow approval, on mostly party lines, came on a 10-8 vote (one Democrat, John Ward of Baxter, voted no), that presaged a contentious floor fight ahead. Rep. Tony Cornish, a gun-carrying Republican from Good Thunder, promised as much, telling Paymar after the vote to expect an all-out effort to defeat the bill. Continue Reading →

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The New Watchdogs: Keeping You Posted, by Jason Barnett, Executive Director of The UpTake

What has happened to local and state government reporting in a time of legacy media budget-trimming, staff cutbacks and a loss of commitment to fearless journalism and truth-telling? I’m sure you already know the answer, and it isn’t good. That’s why I have been invited to present a panel discussion at April’s National Conference for Media Reform in Denver in order to examine the debilitated state of local government reporting across the country, and to discuss ideas to strengthen it. The title of my session is, “The New Watchdogs: Holding Power to Account.” And yes, you bet, I believe that The UpTake is one of the best emerging models out there for making sure that the public interest is upheld in the corridors of power. We’ll be talking about the decline of “accountability reporting” — the worrisome state of local political reporting across the country during an era of for-profit media disintegration and disarray, as well as strategies to improve this crucial type of reporting. Continue Reading →

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Non-Removables: The Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Welcomes You to St Paul (Again)

St Paul's Crowne Plaza Hotel. Click on the photo to see video of the announcement that the hotel is being bought by the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe

Today, in an ironic reversal of fortune that would have been impossible to foresee just a few years ago, Minnesota’s native people again are warmly welcoming people to their homes on the Mississippi River — homes called The Crowne Plaza and DoubleTree Hotels. Continue Reading →

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Last Rites In Foreclosure Fight? Minnesota Senate Dems Block Hearing on Homeowners’ Bill of Rights

Prayers May Not Be Enough: Click on the photo to see video of activists pushing for Homeowners' Bill of Rights

This is not the way Minnesota housing rights activists thought it would turn out when Democrats regained control of the the State Legislature: Hopes for passing a Homeowners’ Bill of Rights to protect Minnesotans from needlessly losing their homes to foreclosure all but died Friday. A Homeowners’ Bill of Rights — similar to one that was adopted by California last year — would require automatic mediation between banks and homeowners facing foreclosure and prohibit the practice of “dual-tracking,” in which banks negotiate with homeowners while simultaneously moving them towards foreclosure, often without their knowledge. Activists have been hoping that the Legislature will adopt such protections to help end the foreclosure crisis but got a cold dose of political reality: Without banking industry approval, some Democrats in the Senate appear unwilling to support a Homeowners’ Bill of Rights. In a polite but tense, closed-door meeting between activists and staffers for the Democratic chair of the Senate Commerce Committee, Sen. James Metzen of South St. Paul, supporters of the proposal were told that it will not be given a hearing this session. Continue Reading →

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GOP Lawmaker/Life Insurance Salesman Says Gayness A Mental Illness

Gruenhagen

Just when it began to seem there was a chance that the culture war over gay rights and the political battle over same-sex marriage might subside into reasonable discussion and rational agreement, a Republican Minnesota legislator has come along to remind us of reality: They are still out there. Continue Reading →

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State’s First Frac Sand Hearing Proves, Well, Fractious

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By Sally Jo Sorensen, Bluestem Prairie
UpTake Contributor

Southeastern Minnesota’s bluff country from Red Wing to the Iowa border and the Minnesota River valley from the Metro to Mankato have been strangers to the sort of divisions with which mining politics have cursed Northeastern Minnesota. Until now, anyway. Tuesday’s joint Legislative committee hearing on the problems of frac sand mining has ended that blessing. (A video replay of the meeting — the first Legislative hearing on the issue — is above). Testimony revealed deep fractures between — on one side — grassroots citizens, conservation organizations and local governments seeking regulatory relief and — on the other — representatives from the Minnesota Industrial Sand Council, a trucking company owner, the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce and the powerful “49ers” or International Union of Operating Engineers. Continue Reading →

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No Felony In Williams Inquest, But Jury To Decide If Cops Should Face Lesser Charge

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A Wisconsin prosecutor conducting an inquest into the controversial 2011 death of Derek Williams while in the custody of Milwaukee police has ruled out the possibility of homicide charges against police. But three officers still face a potential charge of failing to render aid to Williams while he was gasping for breath and begging for help. Continue Reading →

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Inquest into Death of Milwaukee Man in Police Car Resumes After Week of Clashes

Shawnda Shumpert, Derek Williams' aunt, and Grace Kelly, the mother of Williams' girlfriend, recoil as video of Williams' death in the back seat of a Milwaukee police car is shown at the inquest into his death.  (Photo by Rick Wood, courtesy of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

The inquest into the death of Derek Williams while in the custody of Milwaukee police resumes today after a week when seven police officers refused to testify and conflicting testimony was taken from medical professionals, family members and eyewitnesses. The inquest into the 2011 death of the 22-year-old father of three, who collapsed and died in the back of a police car, is expected to conclude after a day or two of additional testimony. But whether the inquest will answer the concerns of his family and community activists who believe Williams was the victim of police misconduct, remains as unclear as ever.  

The inquest was called after a Milwaukee County Medical Examiner changed the classification of Williams’ death from natural causes to homicide, sparking months of protests in Milwaukee against police misconduct that family and community members believe was the cause of Williams’ death. (more…) Continue Reading →

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Gun Fight: Can Minnesota Have a Fair Gun Debate at Gunpoint?

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What if they gave a debate about guns in society and there were no guns in the room?

Minnesota may never know what that would look like.

Last week’s series of hearings in the Minnesota State Capitol on legislation to reduce gun violence had an unintended and unforeseen outcome: Guns in society wasn’t the most pressing issue. Guns in the Capitol was. Continue Reading →

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