Protesters filled Library Mall for a march demanding justice for Jacob Blake, organized by Impact Demand, Wednesday night.
The crowd started with around 100 people but steadily grew throughout the night as protesters marched all over Madison’s downtown.
University of Wisconsin sophomore and Impact Demand organizer Ayomi Obuseh said it is important to continue to feel the pain that violence like the shooting of Jacob Blake evokes.
“We are so used to violence we have normalized this, and that’s not okay,” Obuseh said. “You have to continue to feel this because it is real.”
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Obuseh also spoke on the recent arrest and release of local organizer Jordan King, saying that while it is good he has been released, the fact that he was arrested in the first place is proof of deeper racial issues within Madison.
Obuseh said these issues are also evidenced by Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway’s overall lack of action with regards to firing Matt Kenny, the MPD officer who shot unarmed teen Tony Robinson in 2015.
Obuseh said these issues call for radical change within the city.
“People are listening. Every time some of your friends or your family see you standing up for a cause, it gives them a reason to stand up for a cause,” Obuseh said. “When your light shines, it makes others’ brighter, don’t forget that. It’s not just about protesting — you have to be voting, you have to be doing work beyond this.”
The crowd marched down State Street, Langdon and East Washington, encouraging bystanders to join them by chanting, “Wake your ass up!” “White silence is violence!” and “We don’t get no justice ’cause of you, now you won’t get no sleep ’cause of me.”
Back at the Capitol, organizers invited crowd members to speak at an open mic. Speakers included Althea Bernstein, the 18-year-old woman burned by lighter fluid while at a stoplight earlier this summer.
Protesters march down State Street to protest police brutality, white supremacy at UWTuesday, around 100 protesters gathered at the Capitol and marched down State Street to demand the City of Madison and Read…
Bernstein said this was her first time attending a protest since her attack.
“It’s just been mentally exhausting. There’s good days, there’s bad days and there’s times when I need emergency medical attention because of my mental health, and I’m not afraid to say that,” Bernstein said.
Bernstein, a certified EMT, said she knew she needed to come out and offer medical assistance to those protesting, saying, “We all need to stick together.”
The march remained peaceful, though police cars were seen throughout the night.
Impact Demand organizers said this was the last protest they would be organizing for a while, as they are travelling to Washington D.C. to attend a march commemorating the 57th anniversary of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.