Michael Wanta | March 12, 2015
“No Justice, No Peace!” chanted the mass of nearly 2000 protestors gathered at Worthington Park to begin a march that stopped at the Wisconsin Department of Corrections Building (DOC) and ended at the Governor’s Mansion.
Protestors began to assemble at Worthington Park around three o’clock to protest the shooting of Tony Robinson, the high incarceration rate of young African American males, and the low minimum wage standard.
Local, statewide, and national media outlets all came to cover the protests that shut down East Washington Avenue.
After gathering in the street, approximately twenty young African American students formed the front line of the march and held a sign that said “Black Lives Matter.” They began chanting “No justice, No peace,” as the rest of the line formed behind them.
Protestors first marched to the DOC building. The crowd started down Rosemary Avenue chanting “Whose street? Our street!”
The march stopped in front of the DOC Building. Sign holders, the families of Tony Robinson and Dantre Hamilton, and a small group of speakers gathered in front of the D.O.C. sign to address the crowd.
The speakers included the head organizer, a freshman from a Milwaukee public school, a representative from Black Lives Matter Headquarters in New York City, and Tony Robinson’s cousin, Jordan. They spoke on issues of class, race, and violence.
Jordan said, “I know today Tony is shining, he is looking down on us. He’s happy to see all of your eyes, smiling faces, all here for one greater purpose, and that purpose is to bring his name to justice.”
After Jordan’s speech the protestors began the march down East Washington Avenue.
Chris Ellington from the Stop Mass Incarceration Network said, “We need justice, and the system is guilty of not giving us the justice we need.”
By 5pm the protestors reached North Street, and shortly after turned left down Commercial Avenue. The crowd stopped occasionally to regroup and keep the front line straight so the banners would remain visible to spectators and the many news outlets covering the march.
The march entered the Maple Bluff neighborhood and reached The Governor’s Mansion around 6 o’clock. The head organizers then addressed the crowd, shifting the focus to what they thought Governor Scott Walker should do.
It was here that the crowd of nearly 2000 people stopped amid the wealthy homes of Maple Bluff, to fulfill “the duty to fight for freedom,” as Brittany Cooper put it. Cooper came to Madison from the Black Lives Matter National Organizing Team in New York City.
For Edgewood students, the day of protest started at 2pm with a walkout.
Students gathered outside of Predolin before bussing to the DOC.
The song, “Selma,” by Common and John Legend, played as students and faculty stood somber, remembering the lost life of Tony Robinson.
They chanted “Now justice, now peace.”
Juniper Arthurs, an Edgewood student said, “We stand here today, not to let the media change the narrative. The integrity of the Black Lives movement is not about putting down the opposition, but lifting up the oppressed.”
The Black Student Union students then lead the crowd in a song, singing the lyrics “I can hear my neighbor yelling ‘I can’t breathe’. Calling out the violence of the racist police. We ain’t gonna stop until our people free.”
After the song the crowd had a moment of silence for Tony Robinson.
Professor John Leonard then led a prayer.
After the leading students briefed the crowd on peaceful protests, John Leonard led the crowd in “We Shall Overcome” as they marched across the parking lot to the bus that took everyone to Worthington Park.
“It is incredibly important that we stand together in front of the Department of Corrections, and call out the incorrect police department, and incorrect justice system,” said Brittany Cooper.