Mayor, County Executive respond to Tuesday night’s demonstrations: ‘Things have gone too far’

MADISON, Wis. — Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway responded to Tuesday night’s demonstrations outside the State Capitol building, saying what happened was “far from peaceful and exceeding dangerous.”

In a statement sent out Wednesday morning, the mayor acknowledged that “people are asking for real, substantive changes,” and said the City of Madison “is responding.”

“Over the past weeks, we have heard chants of “who keeps us safe? We keep us safe!” It’s time for that “us” and that “we” to include everyone in Madison,” the mayor wrote. “Because every single person who lives here deserves to be and feel safe in our City. And it is up to every single one of us to make that true. Everyone – police, protester, elected official, business owner, resident – everyone must find it within themselves to show compassion and kindness for each other, and to care about each other’s safety and well-being.”

During Tuesday night’s demonstrations, protesters tore down two statues, including the Forward statue, outside of the State Capitol building, while also allegedly attacking a Democratic State Senator.

“We need to separate First Amendment protests from those engaged in criminal conduct,” Rhodes-Conway’s statement reads. “People engaged in violence and criminal conduct against people or property on the streets of Madison will be held accountable.”

Dane County Executive Joe Parisi also issued on a statement on Tuesday night’s demonstrations, saying, “Things have gone too far.”

“What happened overnight in the heart of the City I’ve grown up and spent my entire life in is absolutely heartbreaking,” Parisi said. “The misguided actions of a few jeopardized people’s safety and well-being.”

Parisi also said that a protester tossed a firebomb through windows of the City County Building that landed near Dane County’s 911 center. He said a fire in the building started next to boxes of paper and was extinguished by Dane County Sheriff’s Deputies.

“The incident took place near 911 dispatchers and put the well-being of those inside in jeopardy,” Parisi’s statement read.”They evacuated, and our back-up 911 Center had to be activated in the middle of the night to preserve basic services to the county’s citizens.”

Tuesday’s protests were sparked by the arrest of an activist on the Capitol Square.

“Let me be clear: the violence against unarmed African Americans across this nation is absolutely deplorable,” Parisi wrote. “All of us must look within ourselves and within our systems and do the hard work needed to bring about change, but setting fire to buildings filled with people will not get us to that place.”