Social Issues

Protesters Say They Are Ready for Long Haul

By Will Kenneally

June 1, 2020 • South Central Region

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Protesters in Madison

Protesters march in Madison May 30, 2020 after George Floyd's death in Minneapolis.

Organizers of the Madison protests in the wake of George Floyd’s death say they are prepared to keep going for the foreseeable future.

“People are going to rebel until they are not going to rebel,” said M. Adams, a co-executive director of the Madison-based Freedom Inc. “It’s simple, you stop murdering black people and your glass [windows] will be saved.”

This came after two nights of clashes between protesters and police that saw businesses in Madison’s downtown looted. Similar damage happened around the state, prompting the Wisconsin National Guard to activate hundreds of troops to assist civilian law enforcement in Milwaukee, Madison and Kenosha.

The civil unrest has caused the mayors of Wisconsin’s three largest cities to issue curfews ahead of further anticipated demonstrations.

“We strongly encourage all residents to abide by the curfew and we will be in the community to help ease fear, protect property, and ensure the safety of all,” said Green Bay Police Commander Kevin Warych.

Over the weekend, police made 109 arrests during protests in Milwaukee that damaged as many as 11 stores. Madison saw 15 arrests in confrontations with police during a second contentious night of protests.

This comes amid calls for how cities police black communities. During a Monday news conference, Adams, one of the Madison organizers, said the department should be defunded and the savings put toward community programs.

“We want those resources to be redirected to pro life-affirming safety mechanisms…examples of what that would be is mental health services, housing, income for people without income,” Adams said.

A group of a few hundred later blocked one of the city’s main thoroughfares, John Nolen Drive. Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway later joined the protesters, saying she would work to deescalate police violence and move funds to support black-led organizations.

The crowd was receptive, yet critical of the mayor’s promises. One protester recounted his experience of working with public officials before, with only empty promises to show for it.

“Don’t come to me unless you did it already,” he said.

Protesters also turned out on Milwaukee’s north side ahead of the city’s 9 p.m. curfew. Protests were also planned Monday for Appleton.

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