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Tuesday, October 03, 2023

Protesters march to mark anniversary of Tony Robinson’s death

Demonstrators marched throughout Madison over the weekend to commemorate the first anniversary of Tony Robinson’s killing and continue to fight for racial equality in the criminal justice system.

Protesters young and old carried colorful signs and banners that read “Justice for Tony” and “Black Lives Matter” as they marched along State Street Friday, from Library Mall to the Overture Center for the Arts.

Sunday, demonstrators gathered at the Social Justice Center and marched toward the Capitol. Robinson’s family also held a candlelight vigil Sunday evening outside the house where he died.

Madison Police Department Officer Matt Kenny shot and killed 19-year-old Robinson March 6 of last year after a physical altercation. Robinson was unarmed.

Between repeated chants of “community control over police” and “this is what democracy looks like,” protesters stopped at major intersections to have moments of silence in memory of Robinson, often halting traffic.

Madison West High School student Ciara Hart helped lead the chants.

“What I would say we’re trying to achieve is just to get people to understand that we’re not done yet and that we haven’t forgotten what happened,” Hart said.

For UW-Madison student Eric Upchurch, co-founder of the Young Gifted & Black Coalition, the events went beyond remembering Robinson’s life. He asked what protesters will do to prevent future police killings.

“Don’t you care about your life? And then what about my life? And then what about the life of the person standing next to you? Because it could be them too,” Upchurch said to the crowd Friday. “But what are we going to do about it?”

Members of YGB and the BlackOut movement participated in the marches, as did members of Robinson’s family.

Andrea Irwin, Robinson’s mother, thanked protesters for their support and urged them to continue to speak out against racial injustices.

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“If you sit there and say nothing, you are just as much guilty as those who are killing the babies in the streets. You have to use your voice to stand up. They have to make this stop,” Irwin said during the Sunday march. “It’s happened, and it will happen again.”

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