On the National Day of Action Against Police Violence, Madison police officers arrested and cited protesters who were blocking East Washington Avenue.
The protesters were demanding “Justice for Tony,” the 19-year-old who was fatally shot by MPD officer Matt Kenny in March. The Dane County district attorney is currently considering whether he’ll bring criminal charges in the case.
According to the incident report released by the Madison Police Department, police officers arrested four protesters, while citing and releasing 11 more around 6:30 p.m. on East Washington Avenue.
The incident report said protesters were blocking all six lanes of East Washington Ave by 1:15 p.m. They were arrested for refusing to leave the street and violating city ordinances which prohibit obstruction of streets, highways or alleys.
M Adams, a leader with the Young Gifted and Black Coalition, said a group began protesting at 10:30 a.m. Adams said police arrested protesters who were protesting peacefully.
“A group of people who are protesting well within their rights, demonstrating their resiliency, for no reason get locked up and detained,” Adams said.
— Young Gifted & Black (@YGBCoalition) April 14, 2015
Brandi Grayson, a YGB leader, said in a statement she was trying to protect the youth from the police when she was arrested.
“This is a clear example of the state violence we have been talking about for months,” Grayson said in the statement. “They brutalized me, and they arrested our babies who were mourning and protesting against the police violence that led to the murder of their friend, Tony Robinson.”
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The YGB statement said community members were angry about the arrests, but ultimately were not surprised.
Derrick McCann with YGB was cited during the protest. He was taken to the police station and held there for around an hour.
“They treated me as if I was a criminal, or some type of bank robber or murderer,” he said. “I didn’t do anything except stand for change.”
McCann said he was arrested along with a high school student. He said the experience was “traumatizing” for the kids who witnessed the arrests.
The incident report said MPD had carefully weighed the protesters’ right to exercise civil disobedience with those wanting to use the roads. The report said officers tried to negotiate a way for protesters to leave several times, but were refused. They made one last announcement at 6:30 p.m. before making the arrests.
Adams said there were not any formal plans for next steps, but that YGB would continue to be on the streets demanding for social change.
McCann said they were not against police officers, but want to bring changes regarding racial disparity in Madison and in the nation.
“All I think about is, I’ll die when I become silent about the things that matter,” McCann said.
Click here for a video of police arresting the protesters, including Grayson.