Youth lead as peaceful protests continue every night on the Capitol

A memorial for all Black lives lost at the Capitol Wednesday night.
A memorial for all Black lives lost at the Capitol Wednesday night. Image By: Nathan Denzin

Every night I wonder if people will continue to congregate at the Capitol in Madison, and every night hundreds show up. 

But often the protesters at the Capitol are not the ones participating in various daytime protests that groups like Freedom, Inc and Urban Triage have put on. These are activists from the youngest generation in Madison — one that demands change.

Every night this group forms at the top of State Street, and no weather — rain, extreme humidity, wind — can stop them from voicing their opinions. 

Peace prevails at night

After three straight nights of violence in Madison, nighttime protests have calmed down — possibly in part to Madison law enforcement's decision to not deploy police officers in riot gear. A lack of police presence has helped the protests have become more relaxed throughout the week.

Nighttime demonstrations are led by a loose coalition of youth organizers, though they prefer to say that the youth themselves are the organizers at the protest. 

“We are not your leaders,” one said through a megaphone Wednesday night, “we want all of you to speak up and lead.”

While most nights usually start with chants and a march around the Capitol, they have turned into a sort of block party for social justice. Community members play music while the crowd dances — every half hour or so the organizers bring the crowd back with “black lives matter” chants and volunteer speakers deliver powerful speeches to the crowd.

Some have also supplied donations to the cause — each night the group has an army of volunteers helping hand out food and water to everyone. There’s pizza, Taco Bell, Starbucks, really anything one could want.

Firecrackers and fights in the crowd have also nearly stopped, and everyone is focused on listening to the volunteer speakers and having a good time.

Police really have not shown up

While some protestors believe less presence of police in riot gear is effective in reducing violence, many others have said police  should also be showing up and listening.

“Most of these kids were born in the 90’s in the crack epidemic,” one protester said. “[The police] need to learn how to talk to us because these kids aren’t conditioned to sit inside and pray things will get better.”

The City of Madison has ended its curfew, but no other action has been taken by the local or state government regarding law enforcement action. Protesters say they will continue to stay out and protest and have a good time on the steps of the Capitol until real action in the state is taken.

Writer’s Note: It isn’t lost on me I am a white journalist covering a protest for African American and POC rights. There is no way I can pretend to understand everything they are put through each and every day.

That being said, in the words of a chant that is used often in the protests, “White silence is violence.” The most important thing people like me, and who look like me can do is to continue to speak out against injustices we see in our country. Support Black-owned businesses, and donate to funds that help fight for POCs.

Here’s a non-exhaustive list of petitions you can sign right now to help.

Justice for Breonna Taylor

Justice For Tamir Rice

Willie Simmons has served 38 years for a $9 robbery

Mandatory Life Sentence for Police Brutality

Justice for Ahmaud Arbery! I Run with Maud!

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