Partisan maps have yielded a legislature that fails to respond to Black voters.

By Julia Kirschenbaum

In yet another painful reminder of the racism entrenched in our nation’s law enforcement systems, on August 23, a Kenosha, Wisconsin, police officer shot Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black father, seven times from point-blank range in front of his children. The shooting has sparked urgent and anguished protests, renewing calls for action to address police brutality and racial injustice.

In response, Gov. Tony Evers called the Wisconsin State Legislature into a special session this week to take up a package of police reform bills originally unveiled by Evers, Lieutenant Gov. Mandela Barnes, and the Legislative Black Caucus more than two months ago. Evers has described the legislation as a critical “first step” toward equity in a state consistently ranked as one of the worst in the country for racial disparities in, among other areas, child poverty, educational attainment, employment, and incarceration. But Republicans — with a near supermajority in both chambers of the legislature thanks to wildly gerrymandered maps drawn behind closed doors with no input from Black lawmakers — have shown little urgency in advancing even moderate police accountability and transparency measures.

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