Calls to defund police come as pandemic shrinks local revenue — 7/27/20

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Today we highlight our latest story, which examines a nexus between the coronavirus pandemic and the nationwide protests against police brutality. Allison Dikanovic, an engagement fellow working on Wisconsin Watch’s News414 collaboration, breaks down what Milwaukee residents mean when some call for the defunding of a police force that makes up a growing share of city spending.

The pandemic has added momentum to defunding calls as the virus wreaks havoc on the economy, shrinking revenue for all types of government services, Dikanovic reports. And the virus is disproportionately infecting and killing Black and brown residents in Milwaukee, loudening calls for the city to invest less in policing and more in housing, public health and other programs that would address chronic racial inequities. 

“I don’t think a lot of people knew how badly these systems were failing people, and it took a pandemic for people to realize how bad things are,” Monique Liston, chief strategist at Ubuntu Research and Evaluation, a Black women-led consulting firm, told Dikanovic.

Top Stories

Will Cioci / Wisconsin Watch

Protesters participated in the BLACK WMNZ Emancipation March to celebrate Juneteenth in Milwaukee on June 19, 2020. Calls to “defund the police” and shift resources to other health and safety efforts have grown louder in Milwaukee and cities across the country following the May 25 police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Defund the police? Milwaukee eyes future amid Black Lives Matter protests, coronavirus budget crunchWisconsin Watch

COVID-19 pandemic changes child care landscape for providers, parents trying to return to workWisconsin State Journal 

Wisconsin will be added to Chicago’s 14-day quarantine list later this week, Mayor Lori Lightfoot saysMilwaukee Journal Sentinel

Wisconsin nursing homes receive faulty PPE from FEMA, face shortagesWPR  

Coronavirus Divides 2020 Bellwether County in Wisconsin: ‘There Is No Grace Anymore’The Wall Street Journal 

With most UW classes still online this fall, students hold out hope for reduced tuitionWisconsin State Journal 

These are the clerks who carried Wisconsin through its April pandemic election. Here are their fears about November.Frontline/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel/Columbia Journalism Investigations

Wisconsin’s smallest businesses faced biggest hurdles to get COVID-19 loans, experts sayWisconsin State Journal 

With a remote start to the school year, parents worry about child care, IEPs and socializationThe Journal Times 

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Government updates

Wisconsin Department of Health Services

Gov. Tony Evers’ office

U.S. Centers and Disease Control and Prevention

World Health Organization 

Housing trouble? 

Are you worried about losing your home or apartment because of the pandemic? Share your experience with News414, Wisconsin Watch’s service journalism collaboration with Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service and Outlier media. Click here for details.


“Kids are naturally altruistic. I’ve had very little trouble, for example, getting my kids to wear a mask, because if you tell them that it protects other people, kids are much more likely to get into that than adults are. So I think talking to them about the reasons for online instruction and how everybody is making sacrifices right now, in order to keep the whole community safe, is a really important part of the solution.”

Malia Jones, an expert in epidemiology who works at the UW-Madison Applied Population Laboratory, speaking to the Cap Times about how to talk to children who won’t be going back to school during the pandemic

Data to note

Here are the latest visualizations of COVID-19 cases and deaths from our partners at WisContext.

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Madison nonprofit provides over 1,000 free bikes to kids and frontline workers amid pandemicWisconsin State Journal 

Whitewater teen supports dairy, feeds hungryDaily Jefferson County Union 

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