MADISON, Wis (Reuters) – Demonstrators marched yesterday to protest the police killing of a 19-year-old black man in Madison, Wisconsin, a shooting that came amid growing scrutiny of law enforcement’s use of lethal force against minorities, the poor and mentally ill.
Chanting “the whole damn system is guilty as hell,” hundreds of protesters walked peacefully from police headquarters in the state capital to the neighborhood where the apparently unarmed victim was shot by police on Friday evening.
They carried a banner reading “Black Lives Matter” that stretched the width of the street and signs that read “Justice 4 Tony” and “5 Shots 5 Times Unacceptable.”
The shooting occurred after a police officer responded to calls reporting a man was dodging cars in traffic and had battered another person, Madison Police Chief Mike Koval said.
The officer followed the suspect into an apartment, was struck in the head and shot the teen, who died later at a hospital, Koval said.
An initial search turned up no gun, but it was too soon to know if the victim, identified as Tony Robinson Jr, had a weapon, he said.
Across the street from the house where Robinson was shot, friends and supporters gathered yesterday, many in tears.
“I’ve seen it all over the news, innocent people getting shot by the police.
Never once would I have thought it would happen to one of my best friends,” said Ramsey Peck, 18, a friend of the victim.
Peck described his friend as “the complete opposite of aggressive.”
Alexandra Yahnke, a 24-year-old college student who lives in the neighbourhood, said: “This area definitely has some issues with race relations that no one really talks about.”