Madison's City Council president and the least liberal member of the overwhelmingly left-leaning council are sponsoring a nonbinding resolution "condemning the use of violence and destruction" and calling on city elected officials to "strive to end violence in our city by 2030."
The resolution appears on Tuesday's council agenda and comes after a record increase in shootings last year, including one that killed 11-year-old Anisa Scott, and a spring and summer that saw several protests against police and racial inequity that sometimes devolved into violence and looting, including an attack on a state senator, the torching of a police car and broken store windows and graffiti up and down State Street.
It also comes as the council's first Black female president, Sheri Carter, faces a challenge for her seat next year from an outspoken local Black activist who helped organize many of the protests and who has sought to excuse the destruction that occurred during some of them.
The 308-word resolution references the rights Americans have under the First Amendment to gather and express their opinions, but goes on to say "these privileges under the First Amendment comes with accountability of actions, reactions, activities, while assemblage is occurring and; violent actions for any reason destroys (sic) the lives of our residents, employees, especially employees in the service industries, and visitors."
The resolution also references the gun violence in Madison last year and says the "Mayor and City Council of Madison, Wisconsin condemn the use of violence and destruction in any form, and for any reason."
The resolution's other sponsor, Paul Skidmore, has angered local police reformers with his support of Madison's generally well-regarded police department and is the subject of a city-funded independent investigation into whether he called a resident a slur during a meeting in September. Skidmore has denied the allegation.
Carter's opponent in the April 6 election, Brandi Grayson, is a longtime activist who has helped organize and participate in protests against the fatal 2015 Madison police shooting of Tony Robinson and other race-related police incidents.
In June, following violent protests Downtown in the wake of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody, Grayson said too many people are more concerned about property damage than Black lives.
"We're making the broken glass the problem," she said. "Ain't nobody offering no solutions or policy changes. How about our leaders show up and say this is what we're going to do?"
Carter, Skidmore and Grayson did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway also did not respond to an email asking if she supported the resolution. In an opinion column she co-authored last month in the Wisconsin State Journal, she condemned right-wing extremism and violence but did not mention the destruction in Madison over the spring and summer.