A year after Tony Robinson’s death, demonstrators march to end racial disparities
Sunday marks one year since the shooting death of Tony Robinson by a Madison police officer. A rally was held Friday to remind the community of the 19-year-old’s life and how he died.
“I believe people need to see the importance of black lives all around our country as this has become a bigger movement towards the liberation of all people,” University of Wisconsin-Madison student George Akpin Jr. said.
Members of the Young, Gifted and Black Collation partnered with students from the UW BlackOut Movement to organize the rally, and the groups marched throughout downtown Madison. The demonstrators stopped several times during the march to have a moment of silence for Robinson. The rally ended at the Overture Center. Organizers said the event was meant to highlight racial disparities in Dane County.
Looking back 12 months after Robinson’s death, Brandi Grayson, a member for the YGB, said more needs to be done.
“No one is challenging, no one else is pushing the envelope (asking), ‘What’s the root cause of these issues? Where can we uproot this thing? How can we really challenge racism, and how can we really have an impact?’ That’s not happened,” Grayson said.
YGB started its movement before Robinson’s death. The group said its goals Friday were the same as when the group formed before Robinson’s death, but the incident affected the group, giving it an increased passion to create change in Robinson’s honor. The group has pushed for change like community control over the police and ending solitary confinement. Those goals have not been met, but they have seen progress in one area. The group pushed to end a proposal for a $130,000 new jail in Dane County, which prompted the proposal to be reconsidered. Other communities of color are starting to see improvements made between communities of color and law enforcement, rally organizers said.
“That relationship is evolving to a level of understand or at least acceptance,” Greg Jones, president of the Dane County NAACP, said. “Acceptance of concerns that are raised by the community and the acceptance of the legal obligations to the law enforcement department.”
The Dane County NAACP is one of the leaders of a new task force formed to address use of force. The group has provided recommendations that law enforcement agencies across Dane County have agreed to participate in.
“If the first step is solid and lays the foundation for the foundational change, I think what we will see in that spectrum is that we might get there,” Jones said.
Grayson said more voices need to be heard to make that change happen.
“In order to make a change and really do something about what we are seeing in Madison, you have to talk to the people who are living this,” she said.