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Saturday, May 08, 2021
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'Not new, but frustrating': Coalition’s ‘Unity’ march shadowed by new police shootings

En route to the Capitol, protesters drew neighbors out of their houses onto porches and balconies. Faces in windows and phones in hands, many spectated as the crowds made their way down usually busy city streets.

At a protest organized by the BIPOC Coalition at University of Wisconsin-Madison, close to 150 students and community members marched from Camp Randall to the Capital Sunday to rally against racial inequality and promote community support. 

The march, originally scheduled as a show of unity, focused heavily on demands for change in policing in wake of the recent police killing of Duante Wright in Brooklyn Center, Minn., and the release of footage of the police killing of 13-year-old Adam Toledo in Chicago.

“It's something that's not new, but frustrating every time to be leading a protest that you know directly impacts not only your life but your friends’ lives,” said BIPOC Coalition co-founder and newly elected Dis. 8 alder Juliana Bennett said.  

Seeing people observing prompted protesters to start chants such as “white silence is violence” and “come march with us” as they continued through residential streets and past apartment buildings. 

“When we say white silence is violence, we mean that in its complete terms, that their inaction is complicity with the system that affects us,” Bennett said. 

As the march neared the capital, some residents of the neighborhoods came out to cheer or take photos and video. 

“It's even more rude when people just take pictures and wave at you,” Bennett said. “We're not putting on a show for you to experience, we are like actively protesting to raise awareness for things that directly affect us.” 

Protesters were represented by the title of the march, “Until we’re all free: together united, we’ll never be divided.” According to BIPOC coalition co-founder Megan Spielbauer Sandate, it signifies that the group is a community that is coming together to address a multitude of issues. 

“It's all kind of under the umbrella of looking at how do we come together, and how do we give ourselves again that space to process all of these events that have been happening, and really actually sit with that,” Spielbauer Sandate said. “Okay, we're here, we're together, we want to move forward and how do we do that as a community.”

The march was followed by a community kickback, featuring music, food and chalk drawings behind the Capitol. 

“We're uniting not only Black, Indigenous and people of color in the different communities that fall into that, but as well as coming together with white allies, looking at both campus and the wider Madison community,” Spielbauer Sandate said. “Ultimately, we share a lot of the same goals, and we are better united and working together than working separately.”

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