Statement of Mayor Rhodes-Conway
Thousands of people have come out in Madison and around Wisconsin to protest the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and the many taken before them. I have heard from thousands of Madisonians in the past week, the vast majority of whom are supportive of the Black Lives Matter movement and the peaceful protests that have occurred in Madison.
However, what happened last night in Madison was far from peaceful and exceeding dangerous. People attacked a State Senator who championed workers’ rights in 2011, tore down a statute of an abolitionist who died trying to end slavery during the Civil War, and attempted to set fire to a building with dozens of people inside. We need to separate First Amendment protests from those engaged in criminal conduct. People engaged in violence and criminal conduct against people or property on the streets of Madison will be held accountable.
Madison Police are involved in a wide-ranging investigation of activities that lead up to the arrest on the square yesterday and will have further information on this investigation when it is available. Officers are also investigating Sunday night hit and run involving a pick-up truck and a pedestrian.
People are asking for real, substantive changes, and the City is responding. The Council moved forward with the creation of an independent police auditor and an independent civilian police oversight committee, and we will continue to work to implement the recommendations of the Ad Hoc Task Force on Police Policy and Procedure. The Public Safety Review Committee and the City Attorney's office are reviewing the Madison Police Department's use of force policies, comparing them with the 8 can't wait standards, the NAACP recommendations, and other best practices from around the country, and will make recommendations for any needed changes. Our Community and Economic Development divisions are working to develop programs and move funds to support wealth-building, housing assistance, small businesses and more in the Black community. Alders are exploring the mental health ambulance model and how to adapt it for Madison. My office is engaging with the question of how to reimagine public safety, and working to engage the community in all of these issues. At the State level, the Governor and Lt. Governor introduced a strong package of proposals around police reform and racial equity.
Over the past weeks, we have heard chants of "who keeps us safe? We keep us safe!" It's time for that “us” and that “we” to include everyone in Madison. Because every single person who lives here deserves to be and feel safe in our City. And it is up to every single one of us to make that true. Everyone - police, protester, elected official, business owner, resident - everyone must find it within themselves to show compassion and kindness for each other, and to care about each other's safety and well-being.
- Katie Crawley, 608-335-7071, firstname.lastname@example.org