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Downtown Madison shopkeepers face a second day of cleanup, loss
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Downtown Madison shopkeepers face a second day of cleanup, loss

From the Pain and protest: Madison responds to the police killing of George Floyd series

For the second day in a row, Downtown Madison residents and shopkeepers spent Monday morning sweeping up broken glass and scrubbing graffiti from their property after a peaceful protest the night before escalated into clashes with police, property damage and looting. The rioting led to 15 arrests, police said.

Some businesses on and around State Street were hit for the first time, others a second after their owners cleaned up once already.

“I don’t mind the protests,” said Shawn Murphy, manager of Insignia, which had windows broken and merchandise damaged for the second night in a row. The Badgers’ apparel store had just reopened on Saturday after being closed for more than two months because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This vandalism, all this other stuff is ridiculous,” Murphy said. “It makes no sense to me.”

“Black Lives Matter” signs in the window didn’t protect Fontana Sports Specialties on Henry Street, where vandals smashed the front door and took what co-owner John Hutchinson estimated was thousands of dollars’ worth of merchandise.

Hutchinson said he supports the cause of racial justice, but “this is beyond the protest.”

“This doesn’t solve anything,” said his wife, Judith Hutchinson.

State Street resident and protester Alan Robinson was helping clean broken glass outside The Towers on State.

“I’m a black man,” he said. “This window was basically broken in support of my right to live, although it was done under the wrong pretenses.”

Robinson, who said he attempted to stop people from smashing the windows of the nearby Goodman’s Jewelers after Saturday’s protest, attributed the vandalism to years of systemic racism.

“What can you say to a people whose city government actively disenfranchises them and doesn’t listen?” he said. “There is unrest throughout our entire country. Each and every one of our cities has a story very similar to the one we have here, where the calls and cries of black people have been ignored, and if each and every one of our city leaders does not step up to answer those calls then each and every one of our cities will probably continue to burn.”

Hours-long protest

Protesters were calling attention to the death of George Floyd, who died after Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck as Floyd cried, “I can’t breathe.” On Monday, the Hennepin County Medical Examiner declared the death a homicide.


Alan Robinson, left, and Colin Malin clean broken glass Monday from the sidewalk at The Towers on State Street after a second night of rioting left windows broken and stores ransacked.

Sunday’s protest began with a march for several hours around Capitol Square and State Street beginning around 6 p.m., growing in size to several hundred and with some protesters throwing rocks at officers.

The action continued after the city’s 9:30 p.m. curfew, which officers on the ground initially decided not to enforce, according to Lt. Kipp Hartman. Protesters surrounded a group of officers in standard uniform and items were reportedly thrown at the officers and one person struck an officer in the face. Additional officers were brought in and chemical agents used on the crowds.


A volunteer sweeps broken glass Monday outside Ragstock on State Street. The store was vandalized for the second time in as many days after protests of racism and police brutality devolved into violence.

Police reported multiple instances of looting, property damage and graffiti and said several fires were set and several officers injured.

Police ultimately arrested 15 people, including one who was allegedly looting with a handgun. Police said several others attempted to steal a police squad car.

At about 2:15 a.m. Monday, Madison police and Dane County Sheriff’s deputies responded to a call about shots fired near the parking ramp at South Fairchild and West Doty streets and found a man who had unintentionally shot himself in the leg.

Deputies applied a tourniquet to the man’s leg and the Madison Fire Department took the man to a local hospital, Madison police said.


John Hutchinson walks through his Fontana Sports store on Henry Street Monday while cleaning up damage done during a second night of rioting in Downtown Madison after protests over police brutality and racism.

The man, whose name was not provided, was arrested for being a felon in possession of a firearm and intoxicated use of a firearm. Police say the man and three friends who were with him were part of the group of protesters and looters in the Downtown area.

Police also responded to other incidents of break-ins, looting or both across the city overnight Sunday, specifically at Rocky’s Liquor Store, Park Street Storage, Stop N Shop, Fontana Sports Specialties, JoAnn Fabrics and Lee Dorn Jewelers.

‘Gross and unnecessary’

Ald. Rebecca Kemble was seeking co-signers Monday for a letter to acting police chief Vic Wahl calling “what we witnessed on the news last night ... a gross and unnecessary display of force that deepens community divide and mistrust of the city and other bodies of government.”

“Instead of kneeling with protesters, MPD led a militarized police effort that escalated the situation with pepper spray, gassing, injuries and harmful trauma to youth and others in the downtown area,” she wrote.

It was not clear Monday afternoon how many City Council members had agreed to sign on to her letter, which asks Wahl to provide:

  • Incident reports from the night.
  • Information on the equipment (and) uniform officers were wearing, the weapons they had on hand, and the weapons used, including manufacturer, and any MPD policies for training and deployment of these weapons, including any training or policies related to deployment during COVID-19.
  • The number of people taken into custody, numbers of people released, their ages, their race and the grounds for their arrest.
  • The number of people injured, a description of each injury, the source of injury and what medical treatment was provided to them.
  • Policies and (standard operating procedures) regarding policing protests and civil disobedience.
clean up cento restaurant

Ben Sabin, left, and John Adams with Martin Glass prepare to replace a window at Cento restaurant Monday morning. The window was damaged during protests Sunday night.

  • Kemble did not respond to a request for comment. Police spokesman Joel DeSpain said police decided to use tear gas only “after rocks and other items were thrown at law enforcement,” one officer was struck in the head and protesters started breaking windows. He said police did not use rubber bullets, as some on social media had claimed, but had used “foam projectiles” on protestors a handful of times.

State Journal reporter Chris Hubbuch contributed to this report.

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