Filed under: Action, Anarchist Movement, Incarceration, Midwest
Report back from New Year’s Eve noise demo outside of Milwaukee, Wisconsin at Waupun prison.
A group of anarchists and anarchist adjacent folks in Wisconsin headed up to the maximum security prison in Waupun on new years eve, 2021. They intended to hold a noise demo to make sure that folks who are being held captive inside the prison know that there are folks on the outside who have not forgotten them, despite the system’s best attempts at disappearing them from their communities. Waupun was picked out of Wisconsin’s many prisons to hold the action because it’s been ground zero for covid influx since the start of covid in 2020 and currently experiencing lockdown due to omicron.
The decision was made to advertise the demo widely on social media, in hopes of garnering wide support and a large crowd to show up. Unfortunately, the social media presence of a flyer advertising the action backfired, at least slightly, as the a Sheriff deputy was waiting for the abolitionists at the only parking lot in the area when they arrived. Seeing this foreboding, repressive presence, the group decided to reconvene nearby to discuss how to proceed given the unforeseen circumstances. One attendee approached the sheriff’s deputy without informing the rest of the group and asked them what they were doing there. The sheriff deputy produced a printed copy of the flyer for the action from social media and said something to the tune of, “I support your right to freely assemble, but there’s a noise ordinance in place here.” The attendee then challenged the deputy to produce a copy of said ordinance, the deputy promptly summoned the local Waupun police to the area to produce the requested material. Two Waupun police squad cars showed up, tripling the pig’s presence at the site where the action was to be held. At the time, the rest of the attendees, having reconvened at a nearby location, heard from a comrade who was monitoring the police scanners that the police were responding to call from the area by the prison from a, “woman who wanted to talk to them.” This raised a lot of questions to the reconvening abolitionists, and caused a lot of confusion.
After the attendee who approached the sheriff joined the rest of the attendees and explained what happened, it was clear what the police scanner language was referring to. Needless to say, this was NOT an ideal situation, not only was the single sheriff deputy waiting for them, raising concerns, now there were two police and a sheriff deputy at the location where the noise demo was to take place, all ready to enforce the noise ordinance laws on them once the commenced. All this points to the importance of groups organizing and communicating the roles that everyone will play during an action before hand. It also points to the importance of informing folks who may not have experience organizing direct action, that such roles are important to come to consensus on, so that people don’t take it upon themselves to act as police liaison and accidentally cause more police repression or presence at an action than there needs to be.
Despite the curve balls, the group came to consensus on how to proceed and had what would be considered to be a successful noise demo, although, for a shorter time than planned due to the increased police presence and subsequent movement of the cops towards the rallying abolitionist group, threatening repression, to which the group responded by dispersing. Thankfully, everyone was able to get the fuck out of Dodge (the county in which Waupun is in) without incidence.
We were able to confirm later from contacts on the inside, that the disruptive noise of the action was able to be heard from inside the prison walls, at very least at one section, so over all, a successful action!
photo: Антон Дмитриев via Unsplash