Protests continued in Madison Tuesday night and into Wednesday over the Kenosha Police shooting of Jacob Blake.
A candlelight vigil organized by Freedom, Inc. at the Capitol mourned Black lives that have been lost or forever changed by violence.
Meanwhile, community leaders and local elected officials held a press conference. The group—which included new Madison superintendent Dr. Carlton Jenkins, state Representative Shelia Stubbs, Common Council President Sheri Carter, Alder Barbara Harrington McKinney, Alder and Assembly candidate Samba Baldeh, and former Madison Mayor Paul Soglin—was organized by Boys & Girls Club CEO Michael Johnson. Throughout the night, leaders emphasized holding elected leaders accountable.
State Representative Shelia Stubbs, who represents portions of south Madison in the state house, used the gathering as a chance to call for unity and cooperation between the demonstrators. Stubbs made history by being Dane County’s first Black representative elected to the state legislature.
“I know what it feels like to be profiled right here in Madison,” she said. “We’re not as progressive as we want to be and not as progressive as we should be, and I’m here to say that we have to come together collectively. We have to address root causes that have led to systemic racism.”
Several dozen folks are at an event organized by @MJohnsonCEO on the Capitol Square.
Speaking right now is @RepStubbs, who is calling on her legislative colleagues to show up to next week’s special session.
“Hold your elected officials accountable.” pic.twitter.com/WvM2mQ7lJX
— chali (@chalipittman) August 26, 2020
Former Mayor Paul Soglin voiced his support for the city’s businesses and business owners. “There are people on State Street who are losing their homes because they don’t have jobs. So when someone says ‘You’re saying property is more important than people,’ no. People are important,” said Soglin.
Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway was absent from the evening’s protests. Deputy Mayor Dr. Linda Vakunta told attendees the Mayor’s office was looking at alternative violence prevention models to reduce the calls to the police.
The group of two dozen leaders then walked to a gathering of several hundred on University Avenue, where leaders of the youth-led Impact Demand took a moment of silence to honor those victimized by police violence.
The group then marched down Gorham and Langdon Street, arriving at UW-Madison’s Library Mall.
There, Impact Demand organizers De’Asia Donaldson and Ayomi Obuseh reiterated their three demands: Breonna’s Law, the Hands-Up Act, and community control over police. The group has been calling for these demands since it formed in June.
Breonna’s Law, named in honor of Breonna Taylor, would ban no-knock warrants. The law is included in a legislative package introduced by the Legislative Black Caucus in June, and could be considered in a special legislative session next Monday. The hands up act would carry a mandatory minimum sentence of fifteen years for police officer shootings of unarmed people. And on a local level, the City of Madison is implementing an oversight board and independent monitor for community control of police.
Madison Metro School District Superintendent Dr. Carlton Jenkins, who started his new job at the beginning of August, and School Board President Gloria Reyes also addressed the crowd. Donaldson and Obuseh had told the crowd to use their phones to record their words—and hold leaders accountable to their promises.
“I spent my time on this campus getting my degree. I was in Minnesota when Mr. George was lynched—16 miles from my house. It changed me, in a deep way. I’ve been fighting for a long time. I wanted to participate in a movement. Being here, choosing to come here, knowing the disparities in Wisconsin but knowing that the attitude is right — but enough is enough,” said the Superintendent.
“What I want to say here tonight, is that I hear you. I hear you as a former law enforcement officer, as a former Deputy, and as President of the Madison School Board,” said Madison School Board President Gloria Reyes, to some disagreement from the crowd.
“What you do, works. When you peacefully protest, and you hold us accountable, it works. We took officers out of our schools,” she said. “We did that, you did that, we did that together,” as the crowd added vocal disagreement and chants.
Dr Carlton Jenkins is the new Superintendent of Madison Metro School District.
He started at the beginning of this month.
Directly before this video…
“I spent my time on this campus getting my degree. I was on Minnesota when Mr. George was lynched—16 miles from my house. pic.twitter.com/V3SfTRKXZY
— chali (@chalipittman) August 26, 2020
The crowd also heard from Sedan Smith, the older brother of Sylville Smith, who was killed by Milwaukee Police Officer Dominique Heaggan-Brown four years ago, causing riots. Heaggan-Brown was charged with first degree reckless murder but later acquitted.
“2016 was the year my brother was killed. What I do now, in remembrance of my little brother, is I give back to my community. I’ve learned how to change tragedy into triumph. I’m the president of a youth chapter of Breaking Barriers, Inc. What we do is change lives, everyday. We get out and talk to the public. My brother’s life will not be in vain because I choose to keep his name alive,” Smith said.
The group marched back to the Capitol, where organizers warned those present to put away their phones, then to the building that houses the Madison Police Department. Some threw rocks at the Courthouse, and the group burned an American flag in protest outside.
The group ran out a masked protester who attempted to break the entrance to the Public Safety Building while others were speaking. One woman chastised him, yelling “Don’t break stuff without our permission. You make us look like thugs in the media.”
Throughout most of the evening’s events, the Madison Police Department maintained their distance from the demonstrators. But as the group lit dumpster fires and broke windows down University Avenue later in the evening, police warned protesters to clear the area, and then closed in on demonstrators.
Many marked and unmarked cars and vans, as well as officers on horses, abruptly sped down University Avenue, driving protesters toward the UW Humanities Building and up State Street, eventually dispersing most of the crowd.
Around three in the morning, at the top of State Street, police arrested a 13-year-old and carried him away in an unmarked van. Bystanders said the arrest occurred quickly and appeared coordinated.
Madison Police spokesperson Joel DeSpain tells WORT the 13-year-old was arrested for breaking windows in the downtown area. He was released from police custody to his grandmother at around two in the morning. Four arrests were made in total that evening.
As the crowd dissipated, marked and unmarked police and tactical vehicles patrolled downtown. Boys and Girls Club CEO and President Michael Johnson and other community leaders engaged in dialogue with remaining protesters on the Capitol Square.
Johnson says he’s concerned that the underlying message of protests gets overshadowed by property damage, and that young people participating in protests are getting swept up into felony charges.
“I heard some good messages early on tonight,” he said. “But once we started seeing the flag burning and windows being broken, I think the police department responded too slowly. And the practice they have in place right now… I don’t think it’s the right practice.”
Madison protests spurred by arrest of local Black Lives Matter activist, Jordan King
On Wednesday afternoon, Black Lives Matter protesters met in front of the Dane County Courthouse. As temperatures reached 90 degrees, the group of about one hundred sat in the street, spoke against police violence, and waited for an activist to be released from jail.
Jordan King was arrested in early Tuesday morning. According to jail records, King was being held on charges alleging he caused property damage and carried a concealed weapon.
King is a high profile local Black Lives Matter activist and leader. He was good friends with Tony Robinson, who was shot and killed by Madison Police officer Matt Kenny five years ago.
Lature Carter spoke to the group about King’s arrest and called for abolishing the police.
“We can’t reform the police,” Carter said. “It is a rotten tree with rotten roots. We must tear it down, because the only way to diminish police violence is to reduce the contact between the public and the police. There is not a single era in United States history in which the police were not a force of violence against black people. “
King was released on a signature bond on Wednesday, Madison Police spokesperson Joel DeSpain tells WORT.
Three protesters shot, two killed, in Kenosha
Two people were shot and killed, and another person was injured, by a police idolizer during a third night of unrest in Kenosha.
17-year old Kyle Rittenhouse was arrested today and taken into custody in Illinois. The alleged perpetrator is from Antioch, an Illinois town about 15 miles from Kenosha. Social media footage shows him as part of a militia and possibly coordinating with police in Kenosha.
Social media footage shows him saying “I just killed somebody,” after shooting into the crowd.
The Chicago Tribune reports Rittenhouse is being held in a juvenile detention facility in Vernon Hills, Illinois. A judge will determine whether he can be extradited to Kenosha County on Friday.
The names of the victims have not been released. The Associated Press reports two victims, a 26-year-old resident of Silver Lake, and a 36-year-old from Kenosha, are dead, and a third victim, a 36-year-old from West Allis, has survived.
It was the third night of protest in Kenosha following the shooting of Jacob Blake, who was shot seven times, at close range, in the back by Kenosha Police. Yesterday, family attorney Ben Crump said Blake was now paralyzed from the waist down and is continuing to receive medical treatment at Froedtert Hospital.
Earlier Tuesday night, police in riot gear shot tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters outside the Kenosha County Courthouse.
Governor Evers expressed condolences today and encouraged protesters to be peaceful. The Governor has authorized 500 more Wisconsin National Guard members to Kenosha this evening. In addition, the FBI and federal marshals are reportedly heading to Kenosha.
A curfew is set for the third night in Kenosha, and goes into effect at 7pm tonight, an hour earlier than past nights.
Speaking on Democracy Now today, Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes said that cases like the Rittenhouse’s are not unique, saying “People treat that like it’s some kind of normal activity that people are walking around with assault rifles.”
Meanwhile, Republican leaders expressed outrage over Governor Evers delay in accepting federal assistance.
US Representative Bryan Steil, who represents southeastern Wisconsin, including Kenosha, and US Senator Ron Johnson released a statement today, saying “It is a tragedy that two peoplehad to lose their lives before Gov. Evers was willing to set aside politics and accept President Trump’s help to restore order in Kenosha. Violence and chaos like we’ve seen the last three nights do nothing to advance justice, and they drown out the voices of those protesting peacefully. Going forward, our focus should be on healing – for Jacob Blake, for the lives turned upside down in the rioting, and for the community of Kenosha.”
White men equipped with long guns, bullet proof vests, and tactical gear have been present at Madison protests, in June and witnessed by WORT as recently as Monday evening.
This post has been corrected for language.