Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne announced in Madison, Wis., on May 12 that police officer Matt Kenney would not be charged in the March 6 killing of Tony Robinson, an unarmed 19-year-old Black student. In response, hundreds of Black and Brown youth and their allies took to the city’s streets that day and the next day to protest another injustice where a white police officer is not held accountable for killing a person of color.
This is the second time since 2007 that Kenney has killed someone while on duty and been allowed to walk free. He is now on paid leave. The Madison Police Department says an “internal investigation” is taking place and a decision will be reached soon on whether Kenney will return to the streets.
Anticipating the district attorney’s decision, the Young, Gifted and Black Coalition called for an all-day “Black-Out Wednesday” on May 13. Protesters gathered at the house where Robinson was slain by Kenney.
There, Brandi Grayson, leader of Young, Gifted and Black, stated, “What we are seeing unfold in Madison is validation that Black lives do not matter. How can people say ‘all lives matter’ when they have yet to prove that ‘Black lives matter’? This is a struggle for power, Black power, Black liberation. You understand that your liberation is bound in Black liberation and it is time for us to act accordingly,” she emphasized.
The demonstrators then marched all day, carrying huge banners demanding, “Justice for Tony!” and “Black Lives Matter!” Black and Brown youth led the march, joined by their white working-class allies. They shut down streets around the city and held a civil disobedience action at the jail. There, protesters chained themselves together to demand justice for Robinson and an end to state violence.
Activists also held a “people’s court” on the state Capitol steps. More than two dozen were arrested.
Solidarity protests in Milwaukee
In solidarity with the protests in Madison, the Coalition For Justice in Milwaukee held a “Justice For Tony Robinson” demonstration on May 13 at Red Arrow Park, where 31-year-old Dontre Hamilton had been gunned down a year earlier. The coalition formed after Milwaukee police officer Christopher Manney fired 14 shots at the 31-year-old African-American man on April 30, 2014. Manney was not charged for this heinous crime.
The Nation Of Islam Mosque No. 3 held a “Black Lives Matter” forum on May 13 in Milwaukee.
Numerous other acts of solidarity took place on May 13, and many statements were issued, too, demanding justice for the slain youth. The Wisconsin Bail Out the People Movement denounced the outrageous decision not to indict Kenney for killing Tony Robinson. Their statement said: “We stand in full solidarity with the Robinson, Hamilton and all families affected by their loved ones being murdered by the police. We stand in solidarity with the Young, Gifted and Black Coalition and the Coalition For Justice. We demand justice for Tony, Dontre, Rekia Boyd, Freddie Grey and all victims of police terror.”
The group demanded the prosecution and jailing of all police who have committed fatal acts of terror against Black and other oppressed communities, and called for disarming the police. Their statement concluded with: “All out for May 13 protest actions in Milwaukee and Madison! Living wage jobs and other people’s needs, not police terror!” (wibailoutpeople.org)
Fight Imperialism, Stand Together (FIST) of Rockford, Ill., stated: “Today, the Dane County district attorney announced that there would be no charges against Madison Police Officer Matt Kenny for the murder of Tony Robinson, an unarmed Black youth. FIST sees this as the continuation of justice denied to Black and Brown communities that face police terror and occupation.
“We stand in full solidarity with the Robinson Family and those who are fighting back against this injustice.” The statement concluded by expressing solidarity with the Robinson family, calling for actions on May 13 and the jailing of “killer cops.” (facebook.com/RKFDFIST)
The Young, Gifted and Black Coalition and the Coalition for Justice are continuing to organize actions demanding justice for Tony Robinson, Dontre Hamilton and all other victims of police terror. For more information on activities, see Facebook.com/justicefor dontre; Facebook.com/fergusontomadison; #Justice4TonyTobinson; #BlackOutWednesday; #BlackLivesMatter and #MKEtoMadison.