Community members and local organizers gathered at the steps of the Capitol Tuesday night for a vigil and march honoring Black lives lost to violence.
The Madison-based organization Freedom Inc. organized the event to bring the community together, celebrate any Black life taken by violence and fight for justice.
One main goal of Freedom Inc., according to Co-Executive Director M Adams, is defunding the Madison Police Department and reallocating those funds back into community services.
“We’re gonna take that money from the police and put it into our community,” Adams said. “We need to fight.”
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Adams and the other organizers called for the release of those arrested at protests, including Jordan King, a well-known organizer arrested at last night’s protest.
Adams said that tonight Freedom Inc. stood in solidarity for Jacob Blake, shot seven times by a police officer in Kenosha on Sunday. Adams also called for justice for Chrystul Kizer, a young Black woman from Kenosha incarcerated at age 17 after killing a man who allegedly sex trafficked her.
Around 7:30 p.m., protesters in attendance lit candles, and one led the group in song.
I'm downtown tonight for @BadgerHerald covering @AboutFreedomInc's vigil and march for Black lives. Right now there's a crowd gathered at the steps of the Capitol, with photos and flowers set up in rememberence of Black people killed by police. #MadisonWI pic.twitter.com/vYDWUc9oxj
— Mary Magnuson (@MaryMagnuson7) August 26, 2020
“What side are you on, my people?” An organizer sang, and the crowd responded, “we’re on the freedom side.”
One protester, who identified himself as a close friend of Tony Robinson, a Black man killed by Madison Police Officer Matthew Kenny in 2015, said in order to keep their movement alive, everyone in attendance needs to work together and love each other.
“I would put my life on the line for every single one of you, and so would [Tony],” he said. “Love the person next to you just like you would love yourself.”
Around 8 p.m., the march began. It headed it down Martin Luther King Boulevard as protesters chanted, “build our future, keep our people out of jail. The whole damn system is guilty as hell.”
At 8:15 p.m., the protest stopped at the Madison City Hall. Organizers held a banner reading “community control over policing.”
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Freedom Inc. staff member Mahnker Dahnweih called on Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway and other administrators to allocate money towards community services and away from MPD.
According to Dahnweih, back in June, Rhodes-Conway joined Freedom Inc. at a demonstration they hosted on John Nolen Boulevard, where Rhodes-Conway spoke in support of their movement. But Dahnweih said Rhodes-Conway hasn’t come through with action for the Black community, to which the crowd answered with calls of “shame.”
“We said ‘answer to the people,’ and do you know what [Rhodes-Conway] said?” Dahnweih said. “She said ‘oh, you know I’ve been trying to talk to some people …’ She didn’t have any answers for us. Well, guess what, Mayor Satya? That’s over.”
Dahnweih asked the crowd to name actions they want taken in order for Black justice and equality. The crowd threw out many, including ending homelessness, improved transportation, free healthcare, free college, free tutoring for students, equal pay, action against domestic violence, elected black officials, decriminalized drugs, mental healthcare and more.
“We are demanding that you defund the police and fund Black futures. We deserve to have good education, we deserve to have food security, we deserve to have transportation,” Dahnweih said. “We have to move with a sense of urgency because our work is not done.”