What should have been business-as-usual for Madison's Police and Fire Commission Monday night instead became the last leg in a day of protests over the March 6 police killing of 19-year-old Tony Robinson.
A rough count of 80 people, mostly young people and women with children in tow, spilled into the hallway outside of the packed and sweltering meeting room on the ground floor of the City-County Building.
Discussion of Robinson's shooting, which has drawn comparisons to last year's shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown by an officer in Ferguson, Mo., wasn't on the agenda. And adding items to the agenda of public meeting without 24 hours' notice violates state public meeting statutes.
But the commission ended up allowing the public comment under "other business" in order to hear the group's concerns.
Robinson, who was biracial, is the latest to die in a string of police-killings across the country, bringing international attention to a city more used to being on best-of lists than addressing its history of marginalizing black residents.
Officer Matt Kenny, a 12-year veteran, has been placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of a state investigation into the shooting. Nearly everyone who spoke to commission members demanded his immediate termination.
Kenny, 45, shot Robinson inside an apartment at 1125 Williamson St. Police have said that Robinson punched Kenny with a fist, staggering the officer. Kenny was cleared in a 2007 fatal shooting.
Madison's Young, Gifted and Black Coalition, a recently formed grassroots effort committed to ending racial disparities in Dane County's criminal justice system, coordinated the show of solidarity as well as many of the day's protests, which saw more than 2,000 people shut down parts of East Washington Avenue, Doty Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard before rallying in the Capitol.
"We demand accountability and are prepared to hold folks accountable," said group co-founder M. Adams ahead of the meeting. "Some folks want to work with police, but we're not here to build relationships with police; we're here to take to the streets."
Many demanded Police Chief Mike Koval make systemic changes to eliminate the biases of a system built by whites for whites.
Young, Gifted and Black Coalition co-founder Brandi Grayson said Robinson's death is the legacy of Madison in the 1930s being a "Sundown Town," when blacks were warned not to be out in public after dark.
"We fail to provide our youth with opportunities, but we do not fail to lock their asses up," she said, referring to Dane County's disproportionately high incarceration rate of black males.
A 2012 report by the Wisconsin Council on Families and Children showed blacks in Dane County are eight times more likely than whites to be jailed despite representing just 6% of the population -- a gap that is the worst in the nation.
Grayson has attributed this disparity to a disproportionate allocation of police resources in black neighborhoods.
"You cannot tell me our numbers outnumber Ferguson's by three times and nothing is wrong," she said. "Racism is so insidious, and that's what makes it dangerous. In 1932 we at least knew what we were dealing with."
The coalition has demanded that police stay out of black neighborhoods, immediately release the 350 black people currently jailed on poverty-related crimes, end solitary confinement and invest in black economic development.
Several who spoke alluded to instances of police brutality that went unreported in local media.
"There have been several instances not reported in the media that we're all aware of, but we chose to look the other way. We're not looking the other way this time," said Corinda Rainey-Moore, a mother and grandmother.
Kewianna Pollard, 23, told the commission her child was stillborn in 2008 after a Madison police officer pinned her to the floor inside East High School. She was 16 at the time and jailed for disorderly conduct but never charged, she claims.
"I was five months' pregnant, but three days later my water broke," said Pollard after speaking to the commission. "The doctor said it was from a blunt force trauma, but nothing ever happened. No one ever apologized."
Tyjuan Bolden, 17, didn't know Robinson, but still spent the day protesting.
"Shit like this hits hard when it happens in your city," he said while standing with friends outside of the meeting. "It's sad. He just graduated and was ready to start his life."
Bolden said he's never been harassed by police, but saw his brother get roughed up several years ago, claiming several police held him down and Tasered him.
Bolden said: "Five years later it hasn't changed. They're still killing niggas." Some hope Robinson's killing can bring meaningful change. T. Banks, another coalition member, said the days of forming a committee that issues a report that generates headlines instead of change are over. "The youth came out in full force today," she said. "The change has come, because the youth are that change."