The streets of Madison, Wisconsin, were filled with demonstrators who were demanding justice for Tony Robinson after the county prosecutor's decision not to charge Officer Matt Kenny for fatally shooting the 19-year-old, who was allegedly unarmed. About 150 to 200 protesters walked from the apartment building where Kenny shot Robinson to the steps of the Dane County Courthouse on Wednesday. The demonstrators held a mock trial of the city's police department, and one group staged a walkout, where they promised to walk out of jobs, schools, and businesses, according to The New York Times.
Robinson's shooting is one of the many officer-involved shootings of unarmed black people in the last few months, and it's part of a larger debate about police brutality, community relations, and race. In this case, NBC News said police responded to calls that said Robinson was running into traffic and threatening bystanders outside of a friend's apartment. When Kenny got to the scene, he apparently followed Robinson into the house, the two scuffled, and then Kenny allegedly shot Robinson seven times. Investigators claim Kenny feared for his life during the scuffle, so he was therefore justified in using deadly force. Dashcam video of the event shows Kenny entering the apartment and firing shots as he backs out of a side door, but it doesn't show the alleged confrontation, according to NBC.
NBC said protestors in Madison chanted "no justice, no peace," and others staged sit-ins outside of government buildings in the capital. On Monday, protests saw about 1,500 participants, with some blowing whistles and banging on plastic buckets, according to the Huffington Post. The walkout, which had more than 1,000 promised attendees on Facebook, was organized by the Young, Gifted and Black Coalition, according to the Times. The group released a statement announcing the protest:
It is time to move into spring and grow by demonstrating resistance and resilience against the assault on black people in Madison and across the country.
Kenny was put on paid administrative leave during the investigation, but demonstrators have called for him to be fired, according to the Times. Protestor Alix Shabazz requested that fellow protesters not interact with officers, according to Al Jazeera:
They are not your friend. There is nothing positive that is going to come from that [interaction].
Rev. Everett Mitchell, 38, the pastor of Christ the Solid Rock Baptist Church in Madison, addressed the crowd, according to the Times:
This has got to change. And we have got to be the moral force to make sure that that happens. We will make sure that we will hold every last official accountable to those decisions.
When protestors were walking back to Robinson's apartment building from the court house steps, the crowd stopped at Grace Episcopal Church, according to the Times. Robinson’s mother, Andrea Irwin, stood on its steps and addressed the crowd:
Today is the day that we are going to change history and not be the ones to be put down and killed anymore. This is not over.
The Times said the crowd applauded Irwin, and then chanted her words back to her: “This is not over.”
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