About a hundred people gathered at the steps of the Capitol Monday at noon for a call to action organized by Link, an organization that has been hosting Black Lives Matter kickbacks outside the Capitol all summer.
The event was originally planned to call out the city of Madison’s, as well as UW-Madison’s, racist history, but after the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha on Sunday evening, the event also became a show of solidarity.
Jacob Blake, 29, was shot seven times in the back by a Kenosha police officer while entering his car after KPD were called to a domestic incident. His three children witnessed the shooting and were inside of the car.
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This shooting led to a night of unrest both in Kenosha and Madison and was central to today’s protest.
Link organizers began by laying out their demands — remove the statue of Abraham Lincoln located on the top of Bascom Hill and remove the Chamberlin rock from Observatory Hill.
Co-President of Wunk Sheek and member of the Oneida nation Michael Williams spoke about Wunk Sheek’s ongoing efforts to get the Lincoln statue removed, speaking on Lincoln’s role in the Dakota 38 execution.
“For years students have lined up in the hundreds to go and take their pictures on his lap, on top of a man who committed the biggest mass execution of Native people on this continent,” Williams said. “He doesn’t deserve to be up there.”
Link’s demands also included that UW conduct a ‘moral’ restart instead of their current ‘smart’ restart, one that would fire and convict Matt Kenny, the Madison Police officer who killed unarmed teen Tony Robinson in 2015, defund both Madison Police Department and the UW Police Department, abolish the police and free Devonere Johnson who goes by Yeshua Musa, Jesse Shackelford and Marquon Clark who goes by Sire Gq, three organizers who were arrested earlier this summer.
They also demanded justice for Althea Bernstein, an 18-year-old woman who had lighter fluid thrown on her while stopped at a red light and Alize Carter, a 24-year-old woman who was the victim of a hit-and-run.
Link’s final demand was that Madison house all those experiencing homelessness.
After these demands were listed, the crowd marched to Library Mall where several members of various student organizations were invited to speak.
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President of the Black Student Union Nalah McWhorter said Blake’s shooting hit especially close to home and that Chancellor Blank’s refusal to remove the Lincoln statue shows how little she cares about her students.
“I’m from Racine, Wisconsin. Jacob Blake, the one that was shot yesterday, was from Racine Wisconsin,” McWhorter said. “We’re literally watching a genocide of Black men in the streets by people who are supposed to protect us … and we have a symbol on top of Madison overlooking State Street, overlooking the Capitol, of genocide.”
After these speakers, the crowd marched down Park street where they encountered a police car. After the officer exited the car and spoke with organizers for a moment, he returned to his vehicle and reversed down the street as the crowd marched on.
They stopped at the intersection of University and Park and set up speakers there, inviting anyone to speak on the open mic.
As people spoke, they passed out pizza and water. They remained at the intersection until about 7 p.m. when they dispersed and told people to join them at the Capitol at noon the next day.