A controversial decision in the killing of a 19-year-old shot down by a police officer two months ago spurred a new wave of racial-themed protests in Madison, Wisconsin. But as of now, the protests remain peaceful and no one seems too eager to run around and tear things up like it happened in Ferguson or Baltimore.
In March, Officer Matt Kenney shot to death Tony Robinson for resisting arrest in the latter’s apartment. Robinson was hit by 7 bullets, and died on the way to hospital. According to police reports, the teen was unarmed.
But on Tuesday, the District Attorney announced that prosecution won’t charge the officer for the killing because the young man, who was under the influence of drugs, punched Kenney in the head. So, any subsequent actions were justified, the DA said.
The decision outraged the African-American community which went out on streets Wednesday to express their indignation. The police reported taking under custody only the protesters who blocked traffic.
Andrea Irwin, the mother of the dead young man was surprised to learn that people in Madison could “voice their emotions” without plunging everything around them in utter chaos.
“I don’t think that’s ever happened in Madison,” she added.
The most recent Madison protest was organized by the Young, Gifted and Black Coalition which managed to gather more than 200 people on the city’s streets Wednesday. Protesters mimicked a false trial outside Dane County Courthouse and “ruled” Kenny guilty.
As police showed up, protesters quickly dispersed but those refusing to clear the road were taken under custody. About 25 were arrested, the police said, but were soon released after being fined $124.
Group behavior experts claim that Madison has slight chances to see protests go awry like they did in Ferguson and Baltimore. Experts argue that the city doesn’t have the high unemployment rate or other social issues those cities have. So without a fuel there cannot be an explosion, experts say.
Moreover, Madison’s black community represents only 7 percent of the total population unlike in Ferguson or Baltimore where that figure rises to 60 percent. Additionally, the police have already discussed the problems with minority leaders and gained their trust.
Madison has a history of peaceful protests, as well. In 2011, tens of thousands protested on the city’s streets against the governor’s decision to deprive public employees of their hard-fought union rights. Although, the number of protesters was much higher than in Robinson’s case, protests remained peaceful.
Dane County police also tried to avoid the errors Ferguson police did when investigating Michael Brown’s death. While in Ferguson, investigators released details a week after the killing, fueling civil unrest, in Madison, the police disclosed the name of the officer involved in Robinson’s death within 24 hours following the tragic incident.
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