Eric Upchurch explains why Genele Laird is not really free yet:
At the moment, we can carry some relief that Genele Laird is no longer being unjustly incarcerated for being battered by Madison police officers. However, to be released under threat of still being charged is not a release. And it’s not recognition that MPD should not have handled this case the way that it did.
The restorative justice option afforded to Genele requires her to first accept responsibility for her charges – charges incurred while she was getting her ass beaten by Madison’s finest. If it's clear that the charges shouldn't exist, then why is she required to accept responsibility? How is accepting responsibility for someone else’s wrong doing just? She did not cause a trained Mental Health Officer to escalate a childish situation. She did not make the officer strategically place his knee into her ribs over and over again. She did not force MPD into tasing her multiple times.
Without real MPD accountability, Genele is missing out on real justice. Because she’s accepting responsibility for what happened, the City of Madison and MPD miss their chance to step up for and address the unjust beating and tasing of an unarmed teen. The community misses a shot at real restoration.
Some have expressed that Genele at least has her freedom, right? Well, she may not be in jail, but she is not free of charge yet. If she does not accept the terms or complete her restorative justice agreement, the DA promises to file felony charges against her. Once again, the victim that we rally to support is seen at fault, and the trained protectors and perpetrators of the violence have no fault. Madison has once again sustained a culture that devalues Black life and excuses the misconduct of the MPD.
Where is the accountability now as the police and community leaders continue to thank each other for a job well done? You mean to tell me that MPD violates this 18 year old girl so much so that she is released from unjust incarceration. She still faces felony charges for MPD’s wrong doing - which she’s accepted responsibility for; and everything’s all good because MPD and “community leaders” got a pat on the back? Where do we consider what’s best for Genele and what’s best for our community?
She has accepted responsibility for bringing about the events that led to her brutalization and the injuries sustained by the officers during that brutalization. Per Chief Koval, she has to – excuse me – gets to sit down with her perpetrators of this violence, and apologetically attempt to restore the community for “her wrong doing”. Congratulations!
What we’ve received is a pacifier - a reason to think that it’s all good. We’ve given our DA an opportunity to boost his votes and “community leaders” a chance to show up and “make a difference” on camera. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad that Genele is not charged or in prison … yet; but what has she or we gained as others gain around her? Depending on how restorative justice goes with the officers who beat and tased her, she may still be charged and sentenced. Her price for this pseudo freedom is to accept that the wrong doing of MPD is her fault. The price of this “acceptance” is the ability to use this case as a tool to hold MPD accountable and improve our justice system. We’ve been stabbed in the back 9” the knife has been pulled out 6” and we are calling that justice.
Genele Laird is not a platform for you to stand on. Genele is not part of your portfolio. Genele is not your credit.
This beating is a warning sign that we should take very seriously. It could have gone further. It didn’t, but it could have. Genele could’ve been killed just like Tony. Genele could be another hashtag in a sea of too many hashtags. Have you forgotten? Have you forgotten how officer Matt Kenny murdered a Black man in 2007, warning us that Tony could be next? Have you forgotten how Kenny was rewarded and now sits as a trainer for his fine work during the tragedy that cost Tony’s life? I haven’t. Pay attention, Madison. It’s moments like these that are the fork in the road to change. That’s why we still call for no charges to be brought against Genele Laird. That’s why we still call for MPD to be held accountable. That’s why we still call for Community Control Over Police. We needed it to prevent Tony. We need it to hold MPD accountable and truly free Genele. We will need it when MPD inevitably violates again. And I would expect nothing less of an institution created to enslave my Black ass. The only way to sustainably address this detrimental pattern is to divorce this game of recognition and fluff to truly empower the community of those most impacted.
In the coming weeks – after the birth of my son – YGB and community partners will be hosting discussions around Community Control Over Police and Collaborative Direct Democracy. Contact YGB to get involved. Stay Vigilant.
Stand with US!!! We are Marching Forth on March 4th in honor of the life of Tony Robinson. Tony was 19 years old when he was viciously murdered at the hands of Madison Police Office Matt Kenny. He was unarmed when he was gunned down by Matt Kenny on March 6, 2015. Matt Kenny is still employed as a Police Office with the Madison Police Department. He has been granted the ability to move on with his life and the ability to
Friday, February 26th
UW Madison South Side Partnership
2312 S. Park St
Madison, WI 53713
This is a free event; donations will be accepted. Snacks will be provided. The event is sponsored by: Operation Welcome Home, Groundwork, Freedom Inc, Young Gifted and Black and QuARE. Livingston will give a talk about his work addressing racism from a Black mental health perspective. He will engage the audience in a conversation about how to survive and defy the prevalent racism and racial disparities that have been highlighted recently, but have
Recommendations do not equate to liberation. So we continue to fight. We'll be gearing up for more community engagement, regular actions and direct services. Please stay in the loop as we prepare for the anniversary action of honoring the life of Tony Terrell Robinson, and continuing to demand justice for his murder by the Madison Police. May we always remember and never forget... "It is our duty to fight for our freedom. It is our duty to win. We must love and support one another. We have nothing to lose but our chains!" ~ Assata Shakur
Please sign and share our petition to the United Nations (here) for an independent investigation into the murder of Tony Robinson and the gross racial disparities in Dane County. Please support our efforts by sharing or donating to our gofundme page here.
February 22nd, March 7th and 21st, April 11th and 25th.
2pm - 4pm in Room 302 at Central Library
OWH is a grassroots organization fighting for Human Rights and to end the root causes of homelessness. Join OWH Freedom Schools focused on making housing a human right, ending the criminalization of homelessness, and working for Black liberation. 2pm-4pm Room 302
In Wisconsin, there are currently a number of bills that threaten the basic rights of immigrants in our community. Bills AB 723/SB 533 and AB 450/SB 369 could have very negative effects on undocumented residents of our State, on law enforcement and on the safety of our communities. Below is a brief summary for each of these bills and their negative impact on Latino and immigrant communities. The Wisconsin assembly is scheduled to vote on this legislation on Tuesday, February 16. Young Gifted and Black supports Voces de la Frontera’s Day Without Latinos and Immigrants as a response to proposed legislation that threatens our immigrant family. Will you Join Us?
1) AB 723/SB 533: This bill will block local control and local IDs for undocumented people and those who lack documents to obtain
After countless months of community organizing and advocacy, the tireless efforts of partner organizations Freedom Inc. OWH, and too many others to name here, not to mention YOUR support as a community, the United Nations has recommended the United States end solitary confinement, adopt community control over police, and pay reparations to people of African descent for the affects of slavery! These wins are HUGE for us! They represent the result of a nation wide effort and the materialization of the will of a Madison community that stood up against State Violence. Learn more about the UN recommendations here.
In a historic turn, the UN workgroup, Experts on People of African Descent, is pushing the U.S. government to give long overdue reparations to descendants of slaves in America. YGB and Freedom Inc. members turned out to present their case to the UN workgroup in earlier February 2016 and it appears their arguments did not fall on deaf ears.
On Friday December 18th, due to ongoing pressure from YGB, Freedom Inc, Operation Welcome Home, and supporters Lisa Mitchell has been released from jail.
This is a huge victory to see Lisa, a Black trans woman, freed from solitary confinement, given a time-served sentence, able to dress how she wants as a woman for her continued probation period, and on the path to getting full trans health care.
The campaign to #FreeLisa is part of YGB's larger campaign to #FreeThe350 and the #HandsOffBlackWomyn campaign.
Eisha Love a Black trans woman incarcerated for self-defense against a racist transphobic attack in Chicago was also released on the same day. This was the result of another strong grassroots effort.