Milwaukee Latino Activist and Community Organizer Juan Carlos Ruiz Passes Away

by Luz Sosa, Organizer Citizen Action

Juan Carlos Ruiz, 53, who worked for Citizen Action of Wisconsin 15 years ago, passed away last week. He was a very well known community and immigration rights organizer in Milwaukee.

Juan Carlos Ruiz was deeply committed to social justice since he was very young in his home country Peru. Thirty three years ago, Juan Carlos moved to the United States and sought political asylum since his life was in danger for fighting the “Shining Path,” a Maoist guerrilla insurgent organization in Peru. He quickly returned to community activism and leadership, where he helped develop a community nursing center at Riverwest Elementary School, coordinated crime prevention campaigns, ran neighborhood groups, and helped redevelop parks to better accommodate recreational activities for the youth. For several years, he also led the fight against childhood lead poisoning in the inner-city of Milwaukee.

Juan Carlos worked with national organizations for immigration reform and was the founder of the Latino Carnival Parade and Street Festival which is an annual event in Milwaukee’s South Side. He was among the 40,000 immigrants and supporters who rallied at the Day Without Latinos on February 18 at the Capitol in Madison to fight against several Republican anti-immigrant bills.

Juan Carlos believed strongly in democracy and the importance of the everyone's right to vote. He worked to make sure Latinos were accurately counted during censuses and fairly represented in election redistricting.

Juan Carlos Ruiz was a dedicated community servant, activist and leader who received several awards for his leadership. He was a credit to Milwaukee, and through his tireless work, Milwaukee has become a better and safer place to live and grow up. He will be missed dearly by everyone who has had the pleasure of knowing him and working with him.

Honor Juan Carlos Ruiz by committing to volunteer in 2016 to help get Milwaukeans out to vote. To volunteer please contact me at

If you can help the family pay for funeral costs please donate here.

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