A Madison, Wisconsin prosecutor decided not to charge a Officer Kenny a Madison police officer, who is white, for the fatal shooting of an young biracial man who was not armed. Angry protesters staged their own trial outside a courthouse Wednesday, May 13. Demonstrators wanted there to be a trial and since the prosecutor would not take this issue to trial, demonstrators held their own to stand up for Tony Robinson, even if it was only allegorical.
There was a peaceful march from the house where Officer Matt Kenny shot and killed 19-year-old Robinson on March 6. Then the procession continued through the streets of the state capitol to the Dane County Courthouse. 200 protesters watched as individual demonstrators pointed out why Kenny should go to trial.
One of the organizers for the march and the mock trial, Alix Shabazz shouted to the crowd, “Was Tony Robinson murdered, and should Matt Kenny be charged with homicide?” The crowd shouted back in agreement.
Paul Soglin, Madison’s Mayor had given a warning that if anyone caught breaking the law during the protest, would be taken into custody. When the event was over, 25 protesters who joined arms to keep an intersection blocked by the courthouse. These protestors were arrested while other protesters yelled insults at the officers, complete with racial slurs. Out of the people who were blocking the street, 25 people were arrested, according to a spokesman for the Madison police, Joel DeSpain. Each protester that was released got a $124 fine for a misdemeanor.
Tuesday, May 12, Ismael Ozanne, the Dane County District Attorney, said that he believed Officer Kenny was justified in his actions. Robinson was high on hallucinogenic mushrooms, he had attacked several people, and had hit the officer in the head when Kenny shot and killed him.
The Young, Gifted and Black Coalition organized Wednesday’s demonstration as well several other protests since the shooting took place to stand up for Tony Robinson. All of the protests have been peaceful. Before Wednesday’s march, Shabazz instructed her fellow demonstrators to not interact with the police. She said, the police are not your friends, and nothing good will come from talking to them.
Police accommodated the march by blocking off streets and rerouting traffic. Also, there were several volunteers from community groups including, 100 Black Men and the Urban League, watching over the march so that anyone who was thinking about breaking the law, would think twice.
Wisconsin’s first minority district attorney, Ozanne, is biracial and addressed his own racial heritage with the announcement that he was not going to charge Kenny, as he viewed Robinson’s death through the eyes of his heritage, but his decision was based on the facts as they were presented. Ozanne continued saying that the recent violence in the nation is justifying fear, hatred and violence. He said that “true and lasting change does not come from violence, but from exercising our voices and our votes.”
Robinson’s mother, Andrea Irwin, commended the people of her community for being able to voice their emotions and not wreck and ruin things with violence. Demonstrations to stand up for Tony Robinson are likely to continue until justice has been redeemed.
By Jeanette Smith
ABC: Demonstrators Protest Police Shooting in Wisconsin Capitol
WLOX: Correction: Killings by Police – Madison
StarTribune: Demonstrators Protest Police Shooting in Wisconsin Capitol
Photo courtesy of Light Brigading’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License