Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

At a Black Lives Matter protest in Madison on March 7, 2015. (Photo: Light Brigading/flickr/cc)

As Tony Robinson Laid to Rest, Calls for Action Grow

'Every one of us must be a part of the solution. Black lives have to matter to each and every one of us.'

Deirdre Fulton

Funeral services for Tony Robinson, the unarmed, biracial 19-year-old shot dead by a white Madison, Wisconsin police officer last week, are being held on Saturday.

Preliminary autopsy results, released Friday, show Robinson was shot in the head, torso, and right arm, according to news reports.

Madison police have said Officer Matt Kenny shot Robinson multiple times during an altercation in an apartment. Kenny arrived at the scene following 911 reports that Robinson was running in and out of traffic and acting agitated.

The Guardian explored the incident as well as Robinson's early life and teen years in a piece published Friday.

"The community is still reeling from Robinson’s death," wrote journalists Oliver Laughland and Zoe Sullivan. "Many questions remain unanswered, and protesters have vowed to continue mobilising on the issue."

On Monday, close to 2,000 high school and college students occupied the Wisconsin State Capitol demanding "Justice for Tony."

According to the Washington State Journal:

More than 40 Madison City Council members, School Board members and Dane County Board members signed a joint statement released Friday calling Robinson's death a "horrible tragedy."

"Many of the incidents, shootings and deaths that we see reported on the news find their root cause in the intolerable (racial) disparity present in our community," they said in the letter.

"We are here to ask each of our constituents to accept along with us the challenge of ending the shameful racial disparities in our community," the letter said. "Every one of us must be a part of the solution. Black lives have to matter to each and every one of us."

At a forum organized by African-American church leaders on Friday evening, Madison Police Chief Mike Koval asked for the community's forgiveness. "I desperately seek that," he said.

But in an op-ed published Friday, Alix Shabazz and Brandi Grayson, of Madison's Young Gifted and Black coalition, called for action, not words.

"The 'kinder and gentler'—and media-friendly—approach of the Madison Police Department after Tony Robinson’s death might look good in pictures and headlines, but it means nothing for the lives of black people here who live through—or die from—state violence," they wrote. 

Shabazz and Grayson added:

We believe that both the murder of another unarmed black youth and the building of a new jail which will primarily house black people are state violence, a term which encompasses both immediate acts of violence by the state (like stop and frisks, or police shootings) and "slower" forms of violence that the state sanctions, condones or enables (like poverty, segregation, surveillance, militarization and incarceration).

We are calling for the Madison Police Department, the City of Madison and Dane County to end state violence that they perpetuate. Officer Matt Kenny should be immediately fired, and officials should implement a policy of firing any officer who kills an unarmed civilian. A community-appointed police accountability board – with a say in hiring and firing decisions – must be established to review police activity in our communities. And we demand a moratorium on plans to build or renovate jails in the county; that money should instead be invested in black community-led initiatives and infrastructure, through which we can effect real change in the lives of the people in the other Madison.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

Please select a donation method:

'Stand With Us': Indigenous Line 3 Opponents Seek Allies to Fight Tar Sands Pipeline

"We need everyone who can to come to the frontlines in support. We need those who can't come here in person to amplify this message through every available channel."

Brett Wilkins ·


'Unimaginably Catastrophic': Researchers Fear Gulf Stream System Could Collapse

"Scientists say we cannot allow this to happen. People in power stand in our way."

Jessica Corbett ·


Texas GOP Gov. Greg Abbott Calls Another Special Session to Attack Voting Rights

Republicans "waging war on our right to vote failed to pass anti-democratic legislation in the regular session and the last special session," said one advocate. "Texans are ready to make sure they fail again."

Kenny Stancil ·


'Time Is Running Out': Progressives Press Biden to Extend Student Loan Moratorium

"These are matters of life and death for people," said Rep. Pramila Jayapal.

Julia Conley ·


'Fearless and Peerless' Richard Trumka, AFL-CIO Leader, Dead at 72

The labor leader is being remembered as "a relentless champion of workers' rights, workplace safety, worker-centered trade, democracy, and so much more."

Andrea Germanos ·