Protestors interrupt holiday shopping to demand racial equality

Group hopes die-in message will cross racial lines

The chants of “black lives matter” have been spoken by countless people across the nation and have spread to Madison.

“The real issue is poverty. The real crime is poverty. If anybody is incarcerated or jailed or punished, it should be poverty and not people who have to survive that poverty,” said M Adams, protest organizer of the Young Black and Gifted Coalition.

Around 100 people gathered Saturday to march from Mineral Point Road to West Towne Mall demanding racial equality, equal pay and protesting against prison labor and crimes of poverty.

“This is a moment in our nation’s history where there is a need to have folks be able to express their concerns, their frustrations, their resentments against the police and other institutions,” Madison Police Chief Mike Koval said.

Koval said the Madison Police Department staffed 20 officers to cover the protest. The coalition targeted the mall to address the impacts that low wage work has on communities of color.

“There are a lot of black people that are employed here who get paid barely minimum wage. So we are saying directly to the mall, we will not sit by and stand by while you choose to pay us less,” Adams said.

The group’s chants and singing reached the ears of hundreds of people at the mall. Some shoppers even came out of stores to hear the group’s message for justice.

“Everybody knows we have issues in America right now. So for people to come out together, that’s a good thing,” shopper Tyshaun Campbell said.

But it was their 16 minutes of silence during a die-in, representing 16 seconds where Eric Garner was choked that they hope left an impression that will cross racial lines.

“Our liberation and our humanities are bound together. If we are not freed, ultimately their own humanity will not be freed,” Adams said.