1. No new jail – Build The People Not The Jail. Immediately abandon and denounce proposals under consideration with the Dane County Board of Supervisors for a new or renovated Dane County Jail. YGB instead proposes human rights solutions that make jails obsolete. Those solutions include ensuring the human right to housing, food, education, and health care for Black people.
2. Invest in the Black community – When the most marginalized win, everyone wins. Black people have historically been the most impacted by the various forms of state violence. Solutions to this violence must address root causes from the viewpoint of those most impacted. YGB therefore demands investment in Black community-led resources and alternatives aimed at addressing the root causes of racial disparities.
3. Release the 350 - Immediately release 350 Black people locked up in the Dane County Jail due to crimes of poverty. When legislation and policies create barriers that result in poverty, that poverty is a form of state violence. In Dane County 75% of Black children are living at or below the poverty line. The Madison Police Department arrests Black people at a rate of 11 to 1 compared to whites. While 6% of the County population is Black, the Dane County Jail population is nearly 50% Black. Each day, the Dane County Jail houses around 800 people. Without structural racism, the jail should be only 6% Black and not 400 black people incarcerated in Dane County Jail. In order to directly address racial disparities in the jail, YGB demands the release of 350 Black people incarcerated due to crimes of poverty. Let them out and keep them out.
*Poverty and Incarceration statistics taken from “Race to Equity Report”
4. End solitary confinement – Mental health officials confirm that solitary confinement (and any involuntary confinement) is a direct assault on the mental wellness of a person. It is unjust and inhumane. Most of the people in solitary confinement in Dane County Jail and in the US are Black. As such, Blacks are most impacted by the violence of solitary confinement and as a result many develop mental wellness challenges or a worsening of previous mental wellness challenges. So YGB demands an immediate end to solitary confinement.
JUSTICE FOR TONY ROBINSON
On March 6th Tony Robinson, a 19-year old unarmed Black youth was killed by white police officer Matt Kenny, after being shot at least 5 times in the chest and head. After reviewing the Division of Criminal Investigations (DCI's) report, Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne will decide whether to indict Officer Kenny. As our greatest power is people power, Young Gifted and Black (YGB) calls for solidarity actions across the country the day of, or the day following the results of the DA's decision. YGB has held weekly actions since the day following the non-indictment of Darren Wilson to push for addressing state violence against Black people in Madison and Dane County.
Tony's death is tragic, but we are not surprised by it. We know he is in line with Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown, Aiyana Jones, Eric Garner, Tanisha Anderson, Akai Gurley, Tarika Wilson, Tamir Rice and every other Black person killed every 28 hours by law enforcement, security officials or vigilantes. Due to the overwhelming lack of charges brought about for police officers in these killings we do not expect justice for Tony Robinson to come from the system that killed him. We are calling on you to help bring him justice in the streets and in long-term changes in your communities across the country.
For us, our specific demands include:
1. A Dual Track Independent Investigation conducted by the United Nations and Organization of American States – Because local and federal officials have demonstrated the inability- or unwillingness- to protect or bring justice to our communities, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) and the Organization of American States Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) must conduct the independent investigation on dual tracks: first, the killing of unarmed 19 year old Tony Robinson by Madison police officer Matt Kenny. And second, the gross racial disparities in employment, education and wealth in Dane County, Wisconsin, as well as the use of police as an occupying force in Black communities. These deaths are the grossest examples of human rights violations against the Black community and deserve to be brought the attention of an international audience.