A group of Madison African-American community leaders who came together after the killing of black teenager Tony Robinson by a white police officer announced the establishment of the Black Leadership Council on Thursday.
The group will address a broad spectrum of issues affecting the local African-American community, Greg Jones, president of the Dane County NAACP, said Thursday.
The shooting of Robinson on March 6 brought together 37 area residents active in equity issues, “but as we talked around the table, we knew we needed a broader collective effort,” Jones said.
“We face serious issues in disparities, upward mobility and equal opportunity in the county,” he said. “We want to develop a collective response not only to the Tony Robinson case, but also to the predicate issues leading up to it, and going forward.”
The Black Leadership Council plans to have a press conference announcing its agenda and membership after Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne announces whether he will bring criminal charges against Matt Kenny, the Madison police officer who shot and killed Robinson in a Williamson Street two-flat. Ozanne has had the case for a month, but given no indication of when he will announce a decision.
The council is comprised of multiple African-American leaders in the local community and of other local African-American based organizations, said a news release by the group.
The group lists preliminary issues to be addressed as: disproportionate minority incarceration; disparities in the criminal justice system including a lack of African-American jurors; the educational achievement gap; fair and affordable housing; equal access to employment opportunities; poverty, economic empowerment and living wage jobs; affordable health care; youth mentoring and programming.
“The Black Leadership Council will develop a detailed strategic plan and create goal-drive initiatives with measureable outcomes,” the news release states. “This council will also have engagement activities and disseminate information with the community and foster ongoing advocacy until these injustices are addressed fully.”
The council will be the voice of a community “disenfranchised and neglected for too long,” according to the news release.