For the fifth straight day, protesters gathered to voice their discontent with the city of Madison over Tony Robinson’s death.
The protest was held outside the City County Building opposing a proposal for a new Dane County jail, which the Dane County Board’s Public Protection and Judiciary Committee was taking up.
This is not the first time this proposal has met disapproval. In February, the Young Gifted and Black Coalition also held a protest against the proposal at the Alliant Energy Center.
Dane County officials look toward prison reforms; Young, Gifted and Black ralliesAfter a heavily-protested proposal for a new Dane County Jail was struck down four months ago, an alternative option addressing Read…
Tuesday’s protest, however, came in the wake of community discontent with city officials following the officer-involved death of 19-year-old Robinson last Friday night, which has spurred demonstrations across the city.
Tony Robinson’s death: a portrait of a life ended, a life halted, a community unitedSaturday morning, a team of three Madison police officers stood outside the house at 1125 Williamson Street on the Near Read…
Standing outside of the City County Building, Young, Gifted and Black organizers Eric Upchurch and Matthew Braunginn rallied individuals and reminded them why they were protesting.
“We can’t afford to lose another Tony Robinson,” Upchurch said.
People filed into the building, filled out registration slips to speak at a public hearing and waited patiently for their three minutes to speak.
Due to the large number of people seeking to testify at the meeting, the committee removed the jail proposal from the agenda to allow more time for individuals to speak and committee members to make considerations.
The meeting began with a moment of silence for Tony Robinson from County Supervisor Sheila Stubbs, District 23.
The testimony offered at the hearing all shared the same opinion: that mass incarceration harms society so the county should invest its money in community programs rather than jail renovations.
“We want no more money spent renovating slave quarters,” Corey Larson, who was also present at the YBG Alliant Energy Center protest, said.
However, county officials said this proposal is not simply a manner of renovating the current Dane County Jail or even building a new jail, but that there are human safety issues at play.
County Supervisor Mike Willett, District 32, said there are critical life and safety issues at the jail, including increasing the number of beds for mentally ill inmates and fixing faulty locks.
“There are jail cells that don’t open, and that needs to be addressed,” Willett said. “No matter how many people come and talk to me, if there are jail cells that don’t open, I’m going to want to fix that.”
County Supervisor Maureen McCarville, District 22, said there was a disconnect between what committee members heard at the meeting and what is actually being proposed. Safety is a top priority no matter what color a prisoner is, she said.
The committee will vote on the proposal at its next meeting, after which it will move on to other county committees before it is finally heard by the full County Board, which will make the final decision.