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Local officials call for end to area's 'shameful racial disparities'
OFFICER-INVOLVED SHOOTING | OFFICIALS seek end to ‘shameful racial disparities’

Local officials call for end to area's 'shameful racial disparities'


The 19-year-old who was killed by a Madison police officer on March 6 was shot multiple times, the Dane County Medical Examiner’s Office said Friday.

An autopsy completed the day after officer Matt Kenny fatally shot Tony Robinson showed Robinson was shot in the head, torso and right arm, according to Barry Irmen, director of operations for the Medical Examiner’s Office.

A host of Madison and Dane County officials, meanwhile, have signed their names to a statement sending condolences to Robinson’s family and calling for an end to the area’s “shameful racial disparities.” Robinson was black. Kenny is white.

Hundreds of people have protested the shooting since March 6, and hundreds are expected to attend a public funeral for Robinson at Madison East High School’s Milton McPike field house on Saturday afternoon. It will begin with a visitation from 2-3:30 p.m., followed by a service at 4 p.m.

Madison police have said Robinson, who was unarmed, punched the police officer in the head and knocked him down before Kenny fatally shot him. Kenny had been called to an apartment home on the 1100 block of Williamson Street for a report that Robinson was running in traffic and had battered multiple people.

Craig Spaulding, the father of a close friend of Robinson, told the State Journal on Thursday that Robinson was acting “agitated” and “was not being himself” on the night he was killed. A friend of Robinson’s had called police in an effort to get him help, Spaulding said.

Toxicology results and other tests were not available Friday, Irmen said, and “are not expected for several weeks.”

Irmen did not specify how many times Robinson was shot, and said the Medical Examiner’s Office would not release any further information about Robinson.

The shooting is being investigated by the Wisconsin Division of Criminal Investigation, which has said it will not answer questions about the incident until that inquiry is complete.

Attorney General Brad Schimel said Thursday that investigators would likely start sending reports to Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne — who will review the shooting to decide if Kenny committed a crime — in about two weeks, though some evidence could take longer.

Calls for change

More than 40 Madison City Council members, School Board members and Dane County Board members signed a joint statement released Friday calling Robinson’s death a “horrible tragedy.”

“Many of the incidents, shootings and deaths that we see reported on the news find their root cause in the intolerable (racial) disparity present in our community,” they said in the letter.

“We are here to ask each of our constituents to accept along with us the challenge of ending the shameful racial disparities in our community,” the letter said. “Every one of us must be a part of the solution. Black lives have to matter to each and every one of us.”

Signers included Ald. Marsha Rummel, whose 6th District includes the residence where Robinson was shot, and mayoral candidate Ald. Scott Resnick.

School Board member T.J. Mertz said he did not sign the letter because it does not promise any new action to address racial disparities.

Two City Council members also declined to sign the statement, saying they believe it too closely connects the Robinson shooting to issues of race. Alds. David Ahrens, 15th District, and Paul Skidmore, 9th District, said they want to see the investigation into the shooting completed before determining the role race played in it.

“This is a tragedy,” Skidmore said. “(But) people are jumping to conclusions that this was race based.

“We should back off and let the process continue.”

A group of local clergy also penned an open letter on Friday, this one directed at the area’s elected officials. That letter, signed by dozens of pastors, rabbis and others, calls on those in government to work with church and community members in addressing racial disparities.

“We call upon you, the people who have been entrusted with the power to effect change ... to enter into dialog(ue) with this community and with us as we do our part to address the attitudes, bias, and prejudices that allow racism to go unchallenged and unchecked in our community,” the letter reads.

State Journal reporter Dean Mosiman contributed to this report.


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