Vaun L. Mayes is a leading activist in Milwaukee’s African American community facing serious felony charges in what many consider a frame-up by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (the ATF) and Milwaukee Police Department (MPD).
On June 5, 60 supporters applauded in federal court as Mayes was released from custody after a hearing. Mayes is facing three charges, including attempted arson. While federal prosecutors claim Mayes tried to organize people to throw rocks at police and firebomb a police station, they also say he never acted on the plans. It was also revealed in court there are at least two government informants involved.
Mayes alleged crimes took place after the MPD shooting of Sylville Smith, a 23-year-old African American man who was running away from police. Smith’s murder by police sparked the Sherman Park uprising, in which a BP gas station was burned to the ground and police lost control for three days, starting on August 13, 2016.
At the time, the MPD said Smith pointed a gun at officer Dominique Heaggan-Brown. Protesters demanded the release of police body camera footage and it revealed that Milwaukee police lied to the public. It showed that Smith had thrown a weapon to the ground before officer Heaggan-Brown shot him in the arm, and then the officer fatally shot Smith on the ground.
Officer Heaggan-Brown was charged, but then acquitted, in the murder of Smith.
In the two years since the Sherman Park uprising, the MPD and federal agencies have had little success in filing charges against people involved in the protests. So the U.S. government is resorting to a frame up.
Mayes is a well-respected activist and youth mentor. He is targeted because he is an unapologetic fighter against police crimes and the oppression of African Americans. Mayes was one of the leaders in the high profile movement to hold MPD accountable for the killing of Dontre Hamilton in 2014. Mayes works tirelessly for the residents in Milwaukee’s African American community, which suffers from some of the highest poverty and incarceration rates of any major U.S. city.
The charges against Vaun Mayes are an attempt to target activist leaders who speak out and organize people against the Milwaukee Police and their crimes. We need your help to defend Vaun Mayes and to hold police accountable, to end there lies, cover-ups and crimes.
The CSFR is asking you to stand in solidarity with Vaun L. Mayes and demand “Drop the charges now!”
Be ready for future calls to action in the campaign to “Drop the charges now!”