Gathering at the Wisconsin Law Enforcement Memorial Wednesday, members of the Madison community met to show appreciation for the Madison Police Department following the death of Robinson last week.
“[We wanted to] grow the support and show the support for the Madison Police Department,” said Brandon, an event organizer who declined to give a last name. “It was time to stand up and just let them know that there are people who stand behind them and what they do.”
Crowd members gathered with last Friday’s shooting still on their minds, recognizing the impressions it left on the community.
“It’s unfortunate what happened. I have a 19-year old daughter myself … and that could have been [her],” said Mansfield Neblett, a black man who came to Madison from France 14 years ago. “But at the same time … I’d rather live in Madison than any other city. So I have to support Madison police.”
Toward the end of the demonstration, a counterprotest formed, chanting Robinson’s name and addressing the crowd.
“What are you fellow officers going to do?” said 26-year resident Shakia Turner to the rally. “I have boys and I’m afraid for their lives.”
As a chant of Robinson’s name resumed, the audience of police rally-goers turned their backs to the counterprotesters and drowned out the chants with their singing of the “Star-Spangled Banner” before ending the demonstration.
Though Wednesday’s rally coincided with a separate march organized in honor of Robinson by the Young, Gifted and Black Coalition, the rally’s organizers insist they were unaware of the other event when they scheduled their rally supporting the police.
According to Madison Police Chief Mike Koval, who arrived at the police rally late after spending time at the nearby march, these recent events have created issues of trust in a wounded city.
“We’re a city that’s hurting,” Koval said. “I don’t want an officer-involved shooting to be the narrative that defines us.”
Julie Spitzer contributed to this report.