In a recently leaked video, Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway expressed her thanks to the Madison Police Department and commended the MPD for their work during the Black Lives Matter protests. The video was allegedly sent to members of the Department early last week.
“We have unprecedented protests, violence and looting. None of us asked for these challenges and we’re all learning as we go,” Rhodes-Conway said in the video. “It must be absolutely infuriating to stand in heavy gear outside while listening to people constantly insult your profession. It must be frightening to stand and have rocks and other things thrown at you and to be in harm’s way constantly.”
The leaked video comes just days after confrontations between protesters and police.
Each evening from Saturday May 30th to Monday June 1st, police, armed with riot gear and with the backing of the National Guard on Sunday and Monday nights, deployed tear gas and violent riot control operations against groups of protesters. The measures were in response to property damage along State Street and throughout downtown.
The video was initially leaked yesterday by the pro-cop group We Stand With The Madison Police Department. They allege that the video was sent to members of the MPD, before becoming password protected.
Rumors of the video had been circulating for some time before that, however. Last Thursday, We Stand With The Madison Police Department made a post on their blog calling for the mayor to release the video.
In a Facebook post, the group wrote, “STOP KOWTOWING. BE HONEST WITH YOURSELF ON WHY YOU FELT YOU HAD TO PASSWORD PROTECT THIS VIDEO.”
Local Black Lives Matter organizers say the video proves the Mayor is tone deaf to the demands of protesters and the needs of black residents. On Tuesday, Urban Triage, one of the primary organizers of Madison’s protests, posted on Facebook condemning the Mayor.
In the post, the group wrote, “She’s great as a politician. [She’s] playing both sides at the same time.”
In a public apology issued today, which also consisted of a video, Mayor Rhodes-Conway apologized for her previous message, saying that the message she expressed at the time was not respectful of the needs and demands of the Black Lives Matter movement.
“I realize I may have done irreparable harm with my actions. I realize too that I may have permanently lost any trust I may have had. But whether or not I regain trust, know that I am deeply committed to advancing the work of equitable systems change,” she said.