MADISON (WITI/AP) — Protesters jammed the Capitol in Madison Monday, March 9th to demonstrate against the officer-involved shooting of a 19-year-old man. It was the fourth straight day of demonstrations. Later Monday, demonstrators filled the Police and Fire Commission meeting in Madison.
Many in Madison are making a heartfelt plea for change as they are outraged another life has been lost at the hands of a police officer. They say they will not rest until justice is served.
Scores of protesters, including many area high school students who skipped class, stood shoulder-to-shoulder in the rotunda as well as on the first and second floors. A Department of Administration spokesman tells FOX6 News 1,500 were present at the Capitol for the demonstration.
Meanwhile, students staged a walkout at the city’s East High School after classes.
Dozens of students marched down East Washington toward the state Capitol Monday morning. Traffic was detoured as the students walked down the otherwise busy street with banners and signs. At least two police squads escorted the students during their march.
"I think it's very important. I think the country needs to hear from our young people. The fact that these kids got up and wanted to be out there, to do it in a peaceful way, it represents the fabric of our community," a demonstrator said.
Madison Officer Matt Kenny shot 19-year-old Tony Robinson on Friday. Kenny was responding to a call of a man jumping in and out of traffic after assaulting someone. Kenny broke into the apartment where Robinson had gone — police said he heard a disturbance inside — and shot Robinson during a confrontation. Police say Robinson attacked the officer.
Robinson did have a criminal history. Wisconsin Circuit Court documents indicate Robinson pleaded guilty in December to an armed robbery that occurred last April.
On Monday, Robinson's family, and Madison's mayor and police chief spoke out.
Madison Police Chief Mike Koval says the Madison Police Department's morale is strained, but he says he has confidence the shooting wasn't racially motivated, and his officers didn't profile.
Tony Robinson was bi-racial.
"I don`t think we have a problem perse. We have 445 cops. We hire a lot of people -- high quality, high caliber character, very well rounded, very well educated, articulate -- many from a social science background. They understand a lot of what we deal with are behavior manifestation of human conditions deeply routed in, so there is a suspension of judement on the part of many of these officers. If I have rouge cops, I feel confident their peer group will turn them in because there is no tolerance for that," Chief Koval said.
"Our hands are stained with the blood of my nephew, and we are all left to deal with the aftermath. This is a bigger issue than Tony. This is truly a universal issue. I encourage everybody to show support regardless of race because this is truly a universal issue. We don't want to stop at just 'black lives matter,' because all lives matter," Robinson's uncle, Turin Carter told reporters on Monday.
Per Wisconsin law, the Wisconsin Department of Justice's Division of Criminal Investigation is investigating this shooting. Chief Koval says as that investigation continues, the focus should be on the life that has been lost.
On Monday evening, a regularly-scheduled meeting of the Madison Police and Fire Commission took place, and that meeting turned into an opportunity for citizens to voice their concerns to city officials.
The board did not comment on the officer-involved shooting of Tony Robinson, but board members did allow an extended period for citizens to voice their concerns.
"This little boy had nothing to do with it. You have tasers. You have walkie-talkies to call for backup," one of those who spoke at the meeting said.
Madison's Police and Fire Commission is made up of five citizen members. Two were absent from Monday's meeting.
"The mothers I talk to that have kids in the exact same age group are traumatized," one of those who spoke at the meeting said.
The PFC doesn't deal with general administration issues, but it does take up matters involving the demotion or discharge of an officer. The board acts as judge and jury and not as an investigative unit.
"The system is flawed. You have to look at it and find a way to make it better," one of those who spoke at the meeting said.
The PFC's attorney says for legal reasons, the board cannot comment on the shooting, but for hours Monday, they listened. The board won't be able to comment on this matter unless charges are filed or the police chief recommends some sort of disciplinary action for Officer Kenny.
"We see this vicious murder of Tony Robinson as an act of police terror against black folks and a form of genocide," one of those who spoke at the meeting said.
A disruption from one man quickly turned into an example by Madison resident Brandi Grayson, who organizes a group called "Young, Gifted and Black."
"His presence in this room was a perfect example -- not one second was I afraid," Grayson said.
Grayson and others are demanding not only that Officer Kenny be fired, but that the Madison Police Department draft a policy regarding the use of deadly force.
"The police force shouldn't be the ones escalating the violence in confrontations," one of those who spoke at the meeting said.
Some at Monday's meeting demanded that the city pay for Robinson's funeral.
- Tony Robinson’s uncle addresses the media in Madison, encourages protesters to remain peaceful
- "We are Tony Robinson:" 1,500 rally at the Capitol, students stage walkout after officer-involved shooting
- “Justice for Tony:” Vigil in Madison after 19-year-old man shot & killed by police officer after alleged attack
- Following officer-involved shooting, head of state’s largest police group says: “Madison is not Ferguson”
- Madison police officer fatally shoots teen, sparking protests