Community Responds with Protest After Shooting of Black Teen in Wisconsin
Angry residents in city of Madison respond to news that police officers shot and killed young man who was apparently unarmed
The shooting of an apparently unarmed black teenager by police in Madison, Wisconsin on Friday night prompted local protests and marks the latest incident of community members responding in anger following a perceived use of excessive force by law enforcement officers.
Though officials have not released the name of the man who was shot and killed, family and friends identified him as 19-year-old Tony Robinson, who graduated from a local high school in 2014.
Following news of the shooting, as this raw video footage shows, local residents gathered near the scene, and later police headquarters, as they shouted chants which include "Black lives matter!" and "No justice, no peace -- prosecute the po-lice!":
The shooting in Madison comes in the immediate wake of Department of Justice report this week—conducted in response to the shooting of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri last year—which charged the police department in the St. Louis suburb of engaging in a pattern of racially discriminatory practices against its predominantly black residents. As in Ferguson and elsewhere across the country, community members in Madison have said they often feel signaled out by local police and claim their is a pattern of racial profiling and aggressive behavior by police that has been ongoing.
"I'm angry," said one local resident at the scene, "because we have been saying over and over that we would soon have a Ferguson on our hands, everyone keeps denying that we have a problem."
Andrea Irwin, who told local WKOW-TV on Friday night she is Robinson's mother, said, "My son has never been a violent person. And to die in such a violent, violent way, it baffles me."
Madison Mayor Paul Soglin told the Wisconsin State Journal that in response to Friday's shooting there would be an out-of-area investigation as required by a newly passed state law.
"It's a tragedy beyond description," Soglin told the Journal. "I expect there will be a lot of anger and frustrations."
According to Reuters:
Madison Police Chief Mike Koval told reporters that an officer responded to a disturbance at around 6:30 p.m. local time and later forced his way into an apartment that the 19-year-old, who was also suspected of a recent battery, had gone into.
Koval said that a struggle between the suspect and the officer ensued and the teen was fatally shot, according to a recording of the news conference published by broadcaster WKOW.
"The initial finding at the scene did not reflect a gun or anything of that nature that would have been used by the subject," Koval said.
Speaking to those who knew the victim, the Wisconsin State Journal added:
Robinson’s aunt Lorien Carter described her nephew as “a beautiful young man” and “gentle,” and said, “He didn’t deserve this.”
Carter said the family was encouraging peaceful protest.
“Don’t give them the excuse” to minimize Robinson’s death, she said.
“Protest peacefully, please, but protest ... don’t let it be in vain,” she said.
“I think you need to rise up but I don’t want violence,” said [Robinson’s grandmother, Sharon Irwin].
“The bottom line is a mother lost her child,” said family friend Adam Mitchell. “He didn’t deserve to die, especially under the circumstances.”
Jack Spaulding, 17, of Madison, said he was a “best friend” of Robinson and came to the scene as soon as he heard about the shooting.