Madison, Wisconsin: Thousands of Students Demand Justice for Tony Robinson

March 9, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


Tony Robinson and his mother, Andrea IrwinTony Robinson and his mother, Andrea Irwin

Family of Tony Robinson, murdered by police March 6 in Madison, Wisconsin, calls for people to stand up to STOP THIS!

March 9—You could hear it in the anguished voice of the grandmother of 19-year-old Tony Robinson, a handsome young man who had just graduated high school. You could feel it in his mother’s pain as she shared a cherished picture of Tony at his high school graduation in 2014. You could see it in the pain on the faces of his best friends as they spoke into a bullhorn at a candlelight vigil and in the rotunda of the Capitol. Tony was loved and respected by many, many young people, including those he mentored. Another unarmed Black teenager killed by police on Friday, March 6 at 6:30 pm in Madison, Wisconsin, on Williamson Street, not far from the Capitol building and the University of Wisconsin. Tony was killed the day before the 50th anniversary commemoration of Bloody Sunday in Selma, Alabama. Photographs of the bloody front steps of his residence, where apparently the police dragged his body after he had been shot multiple times, circulated on Twitter.

A righteous spirit of outrage immediately broke out into protests against this police murder and has been growing every day. Monday, March 9, the protests broke out into a new level with an outpouring of 2,000-3,000 defiant students from four high schools, as well as middle schools, walked out and took over all lanes of one of the main streets leading to the State Capitol—fists in the air, marching, and running, demanding Justice for Tony Robinson. A hundred University of Wisconsin students marched from the campus. A diverse crowd of thousands packed all three floors of the Capitol Rotunda, their chants echoing in the building: “Stand up, fight back, no more Black men under attack” and “Indict, convict, send those killer cops to jail—the whole damn system is guilty as hell.” Hundreds of whistles got to the students who promptly began blowing them. When the mayor started talking about the importance of graduating from high school, some students started chanting, “Fuck you, Tony graduated from high school.”

The protests began the night of Tony’s murder and hundreds marched again on Saturday summoned by the Young, Gifted and Black coalition. The mother of Dontre Hamilton, who was killed by police in Milwaukee, came to show her support. Students from the suburban high school Tony graduated from wore all black at their basketball game on Saturday night to protest his murder. Churches held vigils and speakouts. At one of these gatherings, a revolutionary gave a message of support and outrage to the family and Tony’s friends read the “Statement from Parents of People Murdered by Chicago Police.”

On Sunday night, a grieving community joined together for a candlelight vigil outside the house where Tony was killed. At this vigil, high school students announced they would walk out after the first period of class on Monday. This set in motion a chain reaction... University of Wisconsin students put out a last-minute call for university students to walk out and join the high school students. Others called for adults to come and stand with the youth and keep them safe from the Capitol Police.

Madison, WI, March 9Thousands of students pack the state capitol rotunda to demand justice for Tony Robinson, Madison, WI, March 9. AP photo

Revolutionaries from Chicago went to Madison and the centerfold of Revolution with all the pictures of people murdered by police could be seen being held up by youth in the protests along with a large banner with photos of those whose lives were stolen and the words “Murdered by Police.” Word of April 14—Shut It Down—was gotten out very widely... stickers adorned the youth who had walked out of the schools. Students were chanting, “If we don’t get justice—shut it down.”

The fact that Tony Robinson was gunned down in Madison, Wisconsin, was too much for people to bear and they poured out their hearts and into the streets. This should be a call to people with conscience everywhere that police murder must stop and that together it is up to us to make it stop... This is what April 14 is all about... NO BUSINESS AS USUAL, SHUT IT DOWN, EVERYWHERE.

Madison is ranked to be one of the best places to live in the U.S.. but not if you are Black. Tony’s aunt, Lorien Carter, spoke to a crowd in front of the building in Madison, Wisconsin, where her nephew was earlier shot and killed by a police officer. According to the Guardian, she said: “Here in our little bubble of Madison, WI ... I want y’all to know, that for minorities, we are [in one of] the top five worst places to live. But we are [also in one of the] three happiest cities to be in. So who is it happy for?” The Guardian also documented how deeply racist things are in a supposedly progressive, liberal community: “In 2013, a report by Race to Equity, an initiative run by the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families, found that in 2011, 80% of youths in juvenile detention facilities in Dane County, where Madison is located, were African American. They represented only 9% of the county’s population. The report also noted that African-American youths were arrested six times more often than their white counterparts. A 2007 report from the Justice Policy Institute, ranked Dane County third in the nation in racial disparities for drug-related crimes.” (emphasis added)

Students carried handmade signs reading “Who do we trust? Not the police” as the vilification of Tony started. The father of Tony’s close friend said, “they are going to frame this so that it’s the Black kid’s fault.”

More protests are planned this week.


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