By Adam Rife
MILWAUKEE (WDJT) — As Milwaukee was named to host the 2024 Republican National Convention Friday, Aug. 5, advocates say the city will greatly benefit from tens of thousands of visitors and hundreds of millions of dollars coming in.
But critics are sounding the alarm, saying those benefits will not impact the people that need them most, adding they don’t want the RNC in Milwaukee.
In an ideal world, the injection of $200 million into the area economy will trickle down and impact struggling and neglected communities. But critics of the RNC say this announcement is far from ideal. They say Milwaukee will be used as a pawn and the people will suffer for it.
Kyle Johnson of the group “Black Leaders Organizing for Communities” said of the RNC: “Frankly, it’s a threat to a lot of people. And a lot of people feel unsafe.”
A lot of people also feel angry, frustrated, and skeptical.
Leaders at the top have long touted an expected financial windfall and national exposure, but leaders on the ground say too many Milwaukeeans will again be left behind.
At a news conference Friday, Omar Flores, a spokesperson for the Coalition to March on the RNC 2024, said, “We’re looking to unite all progressive forces in Milwaukee to fight against the Republicans being here.”
Members and groups tied to the Coalition to March on the RNC 2024 have protested conventions in the past. They are already planning protests in Milwaukee and expect an influx of like-minded demonstrators to join them.
Flores said, “We will not let the Republicans, and their reactionary ideas, flourish in Milwaukee. We will not let them visit without resistance.”
The group is ready for the national spotlight, planning a sizeable march even if the city does not grant a permit.
But other groups are waiting to see how the process evolves.
For now, Darryl Morin says his non-partisan group “Forward Latino” plans to engage with the RNC. “I think anybody who truly wants to defend democracy and freedom and our Constitutional Republic would welcome either party to our city.”
But he adds the party cannot spread rhetoric that harms the community. “They have every right to hold the convention here, but the people of Wisconsin have every right to expect them to come here and talk truth.”
But other groups say they’ve already seen enough. Johnson, of Black Leaders Organizing for Communities, said of Milwaukee’s selection as host city: “We’re definitely disappointed.”
He says he’s certain the claims of a major economic impact won’t play out the way leaders have sold it. “Much of that money is going to go to private corporations, it’s not going to filter down or be received by the people that need it most.”
And many critics share the same concern. Flores said, “They say the same thing every time: money will flow to all citizens of Milwaukee through hosting events like the RNC. The only folks that benefit from this are business owners and the wealthy.”
We asked Kyle Johnson how he feels about Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson saying while many Milwaukeeans do not support the Republican agenda, he supports the economic and job benefits this convention could bring. Kyle Johnson said while it’s a tough position to be in, now is the time to step up and choose the safety and well-being of the community over a payday.
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