East side mayoral debate interrupted by protesters

East side mayoral debate interrupted by protesters

Both of the candidates knew Thursday night’s face-off wouldn’t just be filled with passionate political speech.

“I’m not approaching it as a debate.  I’m going to approach it as a discussion,” Mayor Paul Soglin told News 3 before the debate.

“This is a very different debate,” city alder and mayoral candidate Scott Resnick said.

The Young, Gifted and Black Coalition, a group calling for the termination of Officer Matthew Kenny after the shooting death of Tony Robinson, marched in protest to the debate.  They proceeded to enter the Barrymore Theater, chanting in remembrance.

They didn’t stop there.

Soglin sat down numerous times in the middle of an answer as the crowd shouted at him.

The moderator had to ask the audience multiple times to be respectful of the forum.

The first question for both Resnick and Soglin concerned Robinson’s death.

“What we need to do is have a true conversation about the arrest disparities in our community, how we have uses of force, how we have training and how we have protocols for the Madison Police Department,” Resnick said.

Soglin urged protesters and the rest of the city to refrain from violence.

“Everyone, whether they’re a leader or not, make a pledge that they will do everything within their capacity to convey the message that we are a community of peace and civility,” Soglin said.

Before the debate, News 3 asked the candidates about MPD Chief Mike Koval’s email to alders earlier this week, calling their silence on the officer-involved shooting, “deafening”.

“There is an ongoing investigation to determine exactly what happened. So from our perspective, we were only there to listen,” Resnick said. “We couldn’t speak out.”

Soglin said he was surprised by council’s silence and advised council leadership to speak out in support of Madison police.

“There may have not been an opportunity Tuesday night to have said anything, but the silence over the previous four or five days was not right,” Soglin said.

With more conversations about riots as a possibility for protesters in the future, both Resnick and Soglin are encouraging people to move forward peacefully.

“What we can’t do is have our emotions get out of hand, and rioting will not solve the underlying issues that we’re faced with,” Resnick said.

“When we are protesting and expressing our rights in our community, there is no room for violence, and that’s the bottom line,” Soglin said.