City of
Madison

District 13

Alder Tag Evers

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Alder Tag Evers

Contact Information

Home Address:

2329 Keyes Ave
Madison , WI 53711

Council Office

Common Council Office:
210 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd
Room 417
Madison, WI 53703
Phone: (608) 266-4071
Fax: (608) 267-8669
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Alder Evers’ Blog

"I CAN'T BREATHE"

June 1, 2020 4:52 PM

It's a very unsettling time. 

There are lot of words being said. I feel the need to be cautious with mine. 

Cautious, but not silent.

I've spoken to many of you who are disturbed about the property damage that took place the last two nights downtown.

I joined in on the protest during the day on Saturday, but left early because of the lack of social distancing. I do not want to catch or spread this virus.

I wasn't surprised at what followed. There's so much anger and unrest, nerves on edge exacerbated by the pandemic, that what happened a week ago in Minneapolis was like a lit match on a dry tinderbox.

It's become a parlor game, pundits analyzing the riots. I accept what Keith Ellison, Minnesota's attorney general, says, that nobody really knows who started the riot, which has spread to over one hundred cities across the country.

Was it outside agitators, provocateurs, white supremacist militia members looking to stir shit up?  Or angry, frustrated youth tired of nothing ever changing?  Who knows?

Responsible leaders decry the rioting and property damage, none more eloquently than Killer Mike, a rapper based in Atlanta. The call is to join in on the long, hard work of reform, the challenge to build our communities, not burn them down.  "Now is the time to plot, plan, strategize, organize, and mobilize."

MLK once said a "riot is the language of the unheard." It's also the language of trauma, unchecked egos, and in some instances, privilege, as when young white kids go about breaking things but choose not to vote or do any of the hard work for political change.

The riots are against the backdrop of a respiratory virus that has devastated communities of color. "I can't breathe," the dying words of George Floyd, are tragically repeated in ICUs across the country by tens of thousands of black men and women. 

This quote caught my eye from this morning's New York Times:

 "We can't see the African-Americans who are dying in disproportionate numbers inside our hospitals, but we can see George Floyd, an African-American, cruelly singled out for asphyxiation in the street. His death in police custody is a potent symbol of the obscene inequality and racial hostility of this moment...."

Mayor Satya's wise words at yesterday's press conference are worth noting: "If you are angry about property damage, be more angry about the unjustified deaths of black people," she said. "Property can be repaired, but we can't bring people back to life."

I fully agree.

But we dare not stop there. Lots of people are upset at what happened to George Floyd. Even President Trump found it disturbing. That's not enough. We need to turn our gaze inward as a city. 

Say their names.  George Floyd, Tony McDade, Keonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Mike Brown, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Sandra Bland, John Crawford III, Philando Castille, Laquan McDonald, Freddie Gray, Walter Scott....and Tony Robinson.

If we leave Tony's name unmentioned, we are avoiding the lingering pain in Madison's black community that an unarmed black teenager was shot to death by Matthew Kenny, a Madison police officer who remains on the force. 

This wound has not healed.

It festers and will not go away if unattended to.

In some cities, police have joined marchers in protesting police brutality. We need to see that here. Stop the preemptive pepper spray and tear gas, stop the rioting and looting, and kneel together in solidarity as we seek a path forward.

We don't win by facing off. We have to do the hard work, be prepared to be uncomfortable, and commit ourselves to personal renewal and revolutionary social change.  

Yes, revolutionary.

At the march on Saturday, my friend Chris V. said the point we should have been marching was when Trump passed his tax cuts three years ago, tax cuts that sucked so much wealth upwards and left so little to help those in need.

Structural racism works hand in hand with unbridled capitalism.  We're at the apogee of all that.  What happens next is uncertain.

There's no going back to normal, only forward in these unsettling times.

Be safe. Be well. Be kind.

Tag

 




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