More than a thousand community members gathered on an east Madison bike path Thursday night, less than a week after a women was raped and nearly murdered there while walking home. The march began at Burr Jones Park on East Washington Ave and proceeded down the Yahara River bike path and then the Capital City Trail, passing by the spot where the crime took place. Marchers then briefly closed traffic on several blocks of Willy Street as they filled the street, shouting chants to end rape and violence.
A light rain gave way to a downpour, thunderstorm, and lightning. By the time the march ended up at Central Park off East Wilson, participants were thoroughly soaked. The remaining crowd huddled around a pop-up tent and watched a flash mob dance to Break the Chain, a song written for, and often performed at, women’s gatherings, followed by brief speeches by local leaders in their rain boots.
Speaking at the rally were: Madison Alder Amanda Hall, Dane County Supervisor Carousel Bayrd, State Representatives Melissa Sargent and Chris Taylor, as well as self-defense instructor Ali Treviño-Murphy, Rape Crisis Center director Erin Thornley-Parisi, and a member of the UW student group PAVE.