On the morning of Monday, July 11th, Madison’s Freedom Inc. held a rally of about 100 protesters who marched to the police department in downtown Madison. After marching and chanting, the protesters made a human barricade to the front door of the police department, demanding the resignation of Police Chief Mike Koval, accountability for MPD officers guilty of police brutality, and that the department adopt a “community control over the police” system.
The protest, which featured speeches from Alix Shabazz, T Banks, M Adams, and Lexy Ware, who identified the killings of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling as products of a historically racist system, which can only be fixed with people power: specifically, a board of Madison residents with complete control over police staff, laws, and actions. They also addressed how police killings affect more than just Black men - they also affect Black women, Black trans people, and Black people with disabilities. As proof, they listed all of the Black women and girls killed by police, the crowd shouting “say her name” after each one. It took a full five minutes to go through all the names.
Below are segments of speeches given by Alix Shabazz, Lexy Ware, and M Adams, as well as a slam poem delivered by T Banks.
Alix Shabazz: Philando was sitting in his car. He had a licensed firearm...He said, “I have a gun. I’m grabbing my license.” And the police shot him anyway, four times...We know the only way to end police violence is by putting the power in the hands of the people. We cannot trust the state to protect us. We know that any institution whose job it is to protect the corporate interests and the capitalist society - we know they’re not going to protect us. That’s why we say we need community control of the police!
Lexy Ware: Something Stokely Carmichael said was, “if a white man wants to lynch me, that’s his problem. If he’s got the power to lynch me, that’s my problem. Racism is not a question of attitude; it’s a question of power”....[in the case of Tony Robinson] they should’ve had services and not police, and if that happened he would’ve been alive today. They are not trained in mental health services.
Alix Shabazz: We literally mean all power to the people. We literally mean that we should have the power to decide how the police interact in our community. We literally mean that we should have the power to hire and fire police officers. We literally mean that when the police kill an unarmed person and when the police beat a teenage Black girl, we should be able to say “that was injustice and we want them fired.”
T Banks: Do you really think that power would let itself just be shared? Do you really think my proper manners would get white people in Sun Prarie, Verona, Middleton, Monona, Maple Bluff, and downtown Madison to redistribute their wealth? Do you think that slave catchers would let their profits just walk free? Civil rights taught me that without demanding human rights I would never have the right to self determine. ...Is there a desk on Bascom Hill with my niece’s name on it? No, there’s not.
M Adams: We want housing. We want food. We want education.How is it that we’re spending this much money on the police with the literacy rate we have of Black children in this city? How is it that we are spending this much money on the police with a Black child poverty rate of 75%? That means three out of every four Black children are living at or below the poverty line. How are we spending this much money on the police and homeless folks have no place to go? How are we spending this much on police and Black unemployment is in the mid 20-something percents? How are we spending this much money on the police when on the south side we have barely any resources?...Instead of guns and badges, folks who ain’t accountable to us, who shoot us when we call for help or arrest us when we call for help, we want human rights solutions. And the police ain’t a human rights solution.