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Abolitionists Rally in Wisconsin: “It’s Time to Defy Tyrants Again!”

Abolitionists gather at the Joshua Glover mural in Milwaukee, using signs and literature to draw attention to Glover's history as part of their call for interposition by Wisconsin magistrates.
Liberator Staff Photo

— Abolitionists held a rally last week at Cathedral Square to commemorate the rescue of fugitive slave Joshua Glover at that very site, and to remind Wisconsin magistrates of their duty to interpose on behalf of their citizens in the face of federal tyranny.

“We no longer have the convenience of acting indifferent toward the unjust and immoral actions of our government. I submit to you that the lawlessness of the judiciary should not be forborne. I submit to you that the murder of the preborn should not be forborne,” said Matt Trewhella, Pastor at Mercy Seat Church in Milwaukee and author of The Doctrine of the Lesser Magistrates.

In 1854, federal marshals arrested Glover from his home in Racine, WI, intending to return him to the man who claimed to be his owner. While he awaited transport to Missouri, a mob of abolitionists and citizens stormed the Milwaukee county jail and freed Glover, who then escaped to Canada via the underground railroad.

“You are standing on the very ground where the jail was. That’s the church that was being built that they got the beam from to break the jail door down,” Trewhella told rally attendees at Cathedral Square.

When the federal government attempted to prosecute Sherman Booth, the abolitionist responsible for the rescue, Wisconsin officials intervened, declaring the Fugitive Slave Act to be an act of undelegated power and therefore an act that was without authority, void, and of no legal force.

Now more than 160 years later, modern abolitionists are saying it is time that Wisconsin officials follow in the footsteps of their predecessors and stand up to the federal government.

“This is what our state officials need to do today on behalf of the preborn. They need to defy the federal judiciary, defend the preborn, and declare the opinion of Roe v. Wade to be without authority, void, and of no force,” said local business owner Anne Schaafsma.

Abolish Abortion Wisconsin representative Jason Storms spoke at the rally, pointing out that his wife was pregnant with their eighth child, and adding, “If she changed her mind and decided that she didn’t want that child, she could go to two different abortion clinics a mile from here and pay somebody $1,000 and they would tear that little human being apart. And law enforcement in this city, in this state and the federal government would protect that act.”

The rally featured local pastors and leaders, as well as former Green Bay Packer Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila who said it is time to move past a pro-life position and stop allowing the murder of the unborn.

“Today I went from pro-life now, to an abolitionist now,”Gbaja-Biamila said. “No longer do I want to just say I’m pro-life. Everybody’s pro-life. Everybody in the state of Wisconsin right now… you talk to most people, it’s run by Republicans and they all say ‘I’m pro-life’ and we can’t get anything done. And so we don’t want to just say we’re pro-life in title. We want to end abortion in our state and in our country. It’s time.”

After the rally, abolitionists marched downtown, carrying their message to the public square.

“The same principles that were once established here in the state of Wisconsin need to be reapplied to end the evil of our age, which is child sacrifice and the shedding of innocent blood,” said Operation Save America’s Rusty Thomas, who spoke at the rally.

The rally and march took place as part of a conference that also included lectures and discussions on abolitionism, public activism, and lobbying at the state capitol, calling on the governor and other state officials to intervene in today’s holocaust.

“All the other branches bow down to the judiciary,” Trewhella said, “and act as though we should stand by while babies are being butchered, just because the Supreme Court said so.”