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We are in the middle of two public health emergencies. One is the pandemic caused by the COVID-19 virus. In the last months, it has totally disrupted our lives. We have all learned to be vigilant about washing our hands, wearing masks, and staying six feet apart. We have all felt fear – fear of getting sick, fear of losing loved ones, fear of losing income, jobs, our homes.

And although it is in no way comparable, perhaps those feelings of fear and vigilance will help people understand what it is like to live with the public health crisis of racism, which requires Black people and people of color to be vigilant every day of their lives to protect themselves from a world where they can be killed for jogging, driving, being at home, being outside – just living their lives; a world where they are all too often targeted and sometimes killed by police.

I draw this parallel to help non-Black people understand the anger that we see in Madison and across the country. We non-Black people need to understand this anger, and we need to be angry ourselves at the loss of black lives and the lack of justice.

I want the Black community here in Madison to know that we are grieving with you. That I am angry too. George Floyd should be alive today. Tony Robinson should be alive today.
We at the City are working collaboratively and inclusively to allow free speech and lawful assembly, while protecting the people of Madison and the promotion of peace and health. I urge anyone joining a protest to wear a mask and take advantage of the free COVID-19 testing available at the Alliant Energy Center and other sites. We don’t want to further increase heath disparities in our community, so please take care.

I have reached out to the leaders of Freedom Inc. and Urban Triage and requested a conversation about how we can work together to change policy and practice to bring justice and support for communities of color. I have also had a number of conversations with other Black leaders in our community asking for their advice, guidance and input, and will continue to do so.

Community input into policing practices is a vital component of building public trust and confidence. The final report of the MPD Policy and Procedure Ad Hoc Committee, adopted by the Common Council on January 21st, identified a police auditor position as their top priority. I included the creation of an Independent Police Monitor /Auditor position in the 2020 Budget. This position is being introduced in tomorrow’s Council meeting, co-sponsored by President Carter, Alder Albouras and Alder Bidar. After introduction, the position will be referred to the Finance, Equal Opportunities Commission, the Public Safety Review Committee and the Common Council Executive Committee for review and approval.

My staff are working around the clock to establish programs and move funds to support the Black community and other communities of color in Madison, particularly in the areas of affordable housing and economic development, which Black leaders have identified to me as priorities. This work has been a priority since I was elected, but gained urgency with the advent of the pandemic and is even more urgent now. The City is committed to racial equity and must be part of the process of changing outcomes in partnership with the community. This work is ongoing and urgent.

It is also a priority to keep everyone in our community safe. I have had multiple long conversation with Chief Wahl about the need for de-escalation and restraint. We are working to prevent a repetition of the events of the last two nights. To that end, I am extending a nighttime curfew (9:30pm to 5:00 am) to the downtown Madison business district for another two evenings. Further all business are closed in the downtown business district during curfew hours and traffic is restricted. See order below.

I ask again that everyone take good care of themselves and be safe in this difficult time.