Today, a group of Madison’s high school students, local organizers, and concerned citizens gathered outside the Madison School District – Doyle Administration Building, near the Kohl Center, with signs and masks. Their message? No cops, also known as resource officers, in schools.
“We’re here to demand that the school district divest from police and invest in youth,” said Bianca Gomez, the youth justice director at Freedom Inc, a local advocacy group for people of color. “We want schools that are free of police and free of punitive disciplinary policies that are harmful to all children, but especially to black and brown children.”
Freedom Inc. organized the protest alongside local high school students.
Today’s protest was just the latest in a series of protests that have taken place in Madison after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. That happened at the end of last month, but according to Dr. Damita Brown, an advocate for restorative justice, what they’re protesting here is connected to something much older.
“Personally, it’s like walking, you know?” Said Dr. Brown. Our movement is really old; We’ve been working on this stuff for hundreds of years and this is just another step in that long journey to getting the kind of justice that we know this country is capable of.”
Another attendee, a mother of a twelve year old who goes to school in Madison, says the protests are a way for people of color to be heard.
“They mean equity and, finally, a space for-especially black people-but all people of color, indigenous people, to be able to say enough is enough,” said the mother. “Again and again, they’ve been saying it for hundreds of years but it just feels like there’s a groundswell right now and it’s the time to take advantage of all of the energy and the positivity around making change in our society.”
This was a common sentiment among the attendees. Michael Davis, a student at UW-Madison who works with Freedom Inc., said that he believes this is one more step in the fight against injustice.
“We’re just continuing a long legacy of black people rising up in the face of oppression,” said Davis. “So if we think historically or even contemporarily, we’re just a part of the national movement for black lives, we’re part of the national-global uprisings that are putting a light, putting a microscope on what’s been happening to black people since the inception of this nation.”
Some people even came out from outside the city. Joshua Farron, who lives outside the city, said he thought this was important.
“I’m usually a very quiet person,” said Farron. “I don’t speak unless there’s something that really needs to be said, and there’s stuff that needs to be said around this. If I can say anything, I will.”
The protesters used chalk to spell out messages on the streets near the Judge Doyle building. The phrases included “Community Control Now,” “Invest in Youth,” and “No Cops in Schools.”
The protest was ongoing as of 4:30 this evening.