Madison, Wis., rally demands justice, union jobs

March 11 rally.Photo: Leslie Amsterdam

March 11 rally.
Photo: Leslie Amsterdam

Madison, Wis. — Hundreds of youth, students, workers and their allies marched on March 11 to demand justice for Tony Robinson and Dontre Hamilton, “$15 and a union” and adequate funding for public education. The day’s events were sponsored by the Coalition for Justice, the Young Gifted and Black Coalition and Wisconsin Jobs Now.

The protests began with students walking out of multiple schools and converging on the Department of Corrections building to demand an end to the New Jim Crow and the prison-industrial complex.

Carrying a massive “Black Lives Matter” banner, the multigenerational, multinational crowd then marched to Worthington Park for a rally. Members of all three sponsoring organizations and many others spoke out against low wages, police terror and austerity. Protesters came from Chicago as well as Milwaukee, Wausau, Racine and many other cities in Wisconsin.

“We will not be who the media already says we are. We are sending a new message. We must move together in solidarity. Today we stand strong, and we stand together,” said Brandi Grayson, a leader of the Young, Gifted and Black Coalition.

Andrea Irwin, mother of Tony Robinson, invited the public to funeral services for her son, a 19-year-old African-American man who was killed by police on March 6 in Madison. Visitation will be on March 14 from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. and the service will be held at 4 p.m. at East High School, 2222 E. Washington Ave., Madison. “I want everyone to be there,” said Irwin.

Jennifer Epps-Addison, executive director of Wisconsin Jobs Now, said that the event was just the beginning of a coordinated effort of protests around the state. She denounced the signing of right-to-work-for-less legislation by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker on March 9. “We need to be bold in our action all over Wisconsin,” she said. “It’s all about helping the people who need help the most.”

After the mass rally, the crowd of hundreds marched to the governor’s mansion, where racist union-buster Walker currently resides. Another speakout took place featuring Nate Hamilton, the brother of Dontre Hamilton, and Maria Hamilton, Dontre Hamilton’s mother.

Dontre Hamilton was murdered by police officer Christopher Manney on April 30, 2014, at Red Arrow Park in Milwaukee. Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm declined to indict Manney in December. Manney was fired last fall, but he has an appeal hearing that begins March 19, and the Coalition For Justice is organizing to protest it.

For updates, events and information: #justice4tony;;;;