Young, Gifted and Black Coalition maintains stance in meeting with Equal Opportunities Commission

Lucia Nuñez, Department of Civil Rights director, listened to arguments for and against police body cameras in consecutive weeks.

Image By: Thomas Yonash

Madison's Equal Opportunities Commission met with a representative of the Young, Gifted and Black Coalition Thursday night to discuss the organization's mission to raise awareness of the justice system inequalities in black communities.

Speaking to the Commission, Brandi Grayson outlined her organization's goals to bring attention to the disproportionate punishment of blacks and the poor under the law.

“Our objective is to educate, educate, educate,” Grayson said. “People don't realize the impact of what's happening and the impact on our communities ... what that means for our families.”

Grayson pointed to a disproportionate number of arrests and prison sentences as an example of racial disparity in Madison.

“If there was no structural racism, there should only be about 50 black people in jail,” Grayson said. “We're being disproportionately arrested.”

According to the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families' 2013 Race to Equity report, Dane County reported one of the widest arrest and incarceration disparities in the nation. Even though blacks account for only five percent of Madison's population, they account for roughly 44 percent of the prison population, the report said.

The Commission's meeting with Grayson comes after meeting with Madison Police Chief Mike Koval the week prior, where the Commission and Koval talked about Madison's racial disparities, including the city's new body camera study.

The commission also discussed the city's $30,000 police body camera study with Grayson.

“We don't support the body cameras,” Grayson said. “Transparency does not equal accountability. We saw that with Eric Garner. We saw that with Tamir Rice.”

According to Grayson, the Young, Gifted and Black Coalition's opinions have not received the warmest receptions, but Grayson defends her group's stance.

“People are taking what we're saying personally,” Grayson said. “This is not a personal attack. We are speaking on the system, and if you work within that system, you play a role in it ... to not act is to act. To not speak is to speak.”

The Coalition continues to plan protests for the future.

“We will continue to be in the street and make noise,” Grayson said.

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