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Madison, WI 53703
Phone: (608) 266-4071
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District 3 Blog

Gaining Closure and Thinking Hard One Week After The Shooting

December 28, 2016 3:51 PM

Dear Neighbors,

It's been right around a week since the east side lost one of its own in a senseless act of gun violence. Since that night, much has happened, and I want to recap where we're at, what we know, and make space for folks to chime in about we can create a closer community, hopefully leading to fewer tragedies.

Our deceased neighbor, Fatoumata Jallow, was gunned down while at work by a former colleague who felt entitled to take her life because he was upset with her. Jallow was an immigrant from Gambia, a nation in western Africa. To paraphrase her cousin and our neighbor alder to the north, Samba Baldeh, she came from a 3rd world country to a place where the sky was the limit. She believed that her she could be anything. Less than a year after coming to the United States, she was killed.

Our thoughts are with Alder Baldeh and his family as they absorb the awful shock they are experiencing and move through the grieving process.

The defendant, and as with previous violent acts on the east side, I'm not going to lend him the notoriety of mentioning his name, was detained almost immediately by MPD and confessed immediately. Our east district officers and MPD detectives were all over this from the first moment, and Captain Mary Schauff made specific mention of their skill and precision; I join her in thanking our officers for their excellent work.

Those are the bare facts; but I want to share a few observations about how this has impacted our community in the days since the fatal shooting, and specifically how it differs from our reaction to the fatal shooting in our district earlier this year. I truly wish we didn't have another incident to which to so readily compare, but the deaths of Caroline Nosal and Fatoumata Jallow right here in our district demand that we take a hard look at ourselves and our community. With your permission, let's get ready to dig deep and think critically.

As someone who was, by necessity of my role, pretty close to both incidents, one stark difference I notice is how quickly the story of Jallow's death receded from the news and even neighborhood social media. I received only two or maybe three emails from folks asking how they could help or expressing sadness. It's probably fair to say that the holidays played a role in this, as families' minds were elsewhere, but I can't quite shake the feeling that somehow Jallow's death didn't mean the same thing to us as Nosal's did.

Why would there be a difference? Is it because many of us saw Nosal on a weekly basis in the produce section of Metro Market, and were pretty connected to the location where it happened? Is it because, while we are wrenched by Jallow's story, the statistical majority of us cannot quite identify with it, being non-immigrant white people and thus we just aren't as deeply touched by it? Is it because we are already somehow a little desensitized to shooting deaths after our previous one?

I really hope it has nothing to do with the latter two, but we owe it to ourselves to ask tough questions. I watched a news segment the day after the most recent shooting and the very last line of the segment, apropos of absolutely nothing, was 'she was an African immigrant.' I thought, 'what does that have to do with anything? Does that make her life worth something different, or suggest that the whole she leaves behind will be a different size?' It made me think, and I wanted to share the observation with you all. Speaking to my fellow white Madisonians, I truly hope our notions of people of color or worshippers of Islam is not such that when one kills another, it doesn't have as much of an impact on us. Madison wants to be a fair and just city, so it bears thinking about.

I also hope that we are not getting desensitized to violence, as a community. Besides a few insect species, humans are the most adaptable species on the planet. We survive by just getting used to things, even really terrible things. We find a way to make awful things not bother us. I say we need awful things like this to bother us, it's what keeps our humanity in place. I heard on the news this morning that there have been 800 homicides in Chicago this year. That is, without hyperbole, 100 times more than Madison. And nobody in Chicago is taking to the streets or tossing their local elected officials from office over this number. It's as though, as a city, they're somehow numb to it. I don't want even a little sliver of this to happen to our city.

Being horrified and being angry, while not at all fun or healthy in the long term, motivates us to come together and make changes. I am angry that another woman lost her life, her dreams, and her future to a man who felt entitled to her life. I am disgusted that in this great city and this quiet, pleasant district, we have suffered two major acts of gun violence in the space of 10 months. I believe that many of you are motivated as well, and I want to hear your ideas for creating a stronger community in which fewer people are desperate or isolated enough to go through with violent acts. I look forward to hearing from you, I look forward to working with you, and with MPD, with community groups, and anyone else who wants to lend a hand, to make steps forward.

Thank you for thinking critically and giving us a hard look.

As always, thank you for being strong east siders who are not afraid to ask ourselves tough questions, for holding together, and for leaning forward to a better tomorrow for our community.

Best regards as always,

Amanda Hall

Alder, District 3


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