The protest began at Library Mall, where protesters then made their way up State Street to the Capitol and ended their march at the Dane County Public Safety Building. As the crowd mobilized, chants of “black lives matter” and “hands up, don’t shoot” rang through the streets.
The Madison Police Department estimated nearly 300 people took part in the protest. Though the event was entirely peaceful, several MPD officers walked alongside the protesters to ensure their safety.
Kai Nychelle, who organized the event on Facebook, said it was important for people to understand that the Black Lives Matter movement isn’t meant to say that other lives are insignificant, but rather to shed light on the challenges that black people currently face.
“Black lives matter doesn’t mean nobody else’s lives don’t matter,” Nychelle said. “We are saying we want our lives to matter too.”
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Nychelle said she didn’t think anyone was going to come to the protest because it was not formally organized other than the Facebook event she created, which gained more than 4,000 followers.
Kit Parks, who participated in the protest, said she was excited to see the community come together so quickly in response to the police shootings.
“No one group organized the event, which I thought was super interesting,” Parks said. “Having people who don’t even know each other come together online, speak up and plan logistics together is a beautiful thing.”
In addition to the most recent officer-involved shootings, some protesters pointed to past tragedies in Madison that they feel still have not seen justice.
Ebony Coleman, a protester, said she grew up with Tony Robinson — the 19-year-old Madisonian who was killed in an officer-involved shooting more than a year ago. Coleman said the crowd wanted justice for all of the people who have been wrongfully killed, including Robinson.
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Other members of the crowd said their hope was for healing between police and the community. Denzel Bibbs, a junior at the University of Wisconsin, said he was motivated to join the protest in hopes that it will lead to solutions for a more peaceful environment.
One potential solution, Bibbs said, could be to increase cultural diversity within the police force. He said people with different backgrounds could bring in new viewpoints and lead to greater understanding of how to handle complex situations.
Bibbs said he hopes people will come together to create change and peace, rather than divisiveness.
“I hoped we could come together and really come up with very creative ways of changing our police force and changing the relationship the police have within our communities,” Bibbs said. “We need to make it so that they are seen more as part of the community and not really against the community.”
Another rally is scheduled for Monday morning at 8 a.m. to raise awareness for community control of the police outside the MPD building.