‘We’re Protesting For A Better Future’: Madison Demonstrators Show Up For Black Lives, Equality


By Maureen McCollum | June 4, 2020

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  • Ebony Anderson-Carter has been at the Madison protest since Sunday, May 31, 2020. She said she got involved after trying to deescalate an encounter between young protesters and law enforcement. (Maureen McCollum/WPR)

Ebony Anderson-Carter has been at the Madison protest since Sunday, May 31, 2020. She said she got involved after trying to deescalate an encounter between young protesters and law enforcement. (Maureen McCollum/WPR)

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Demonstrations supporting black lives and calling for police accountability have taken place in dozens of Wisconsin communities over the last week. While there has been some looting and incidents with police, the protests have been mostly peaceful. That was the case on the evening of Tuesday, June 2, 2020. Just before a big storm rolled in, demonstrators talked with one another and ate pizza on the Capitol lawn. “Wisconsin Life” talked with some people about why they were there.

(The responses have been edited for brevity and clarity.)

Jazzman Brown: Madison, Wisconsin

Demonstrators on the Capitol lawn in Madison, Wisconsin on June 2, 2020. Most people ate donated pizza while many wore 'Black Lives Matter' shirts. (Maureen McCollum/WPR)

Demonstrators on the Capitol lawn in Madison, Wisconsin on June 2, 2020. Most people ate donated pizza while many wore ‘Black Lives Matter’ shirts. (Maureen McCollum/WPR)

This week we’ve been out here, we’ve protested and donated water. When I say “we” it’s me and my daughter — she’s three. I want her to be a part of this. I want her to be sure she understands we’re not here for any reason other than equality.

I went on “Dane County Neighbors Helping Neighbors” on Facebook, I posted that I was going to go downtown and donate some pizzas and pass them out. If people wanted to donate water or more pizzas, here was my Venmo.

By the time I was done, I had 48 pizzas from Little Caesars, 20 from Ian’s, 50 cases of water, all kinds of NutriGrain bars, fruit, hand sanitizer, wipes, face masks, first aid kits. I am amazed by how far this went. Even after I got here, I was still getting money in my Venmo and people asking how they can help. So, I’ll be here again on Thursday.

I am elated. This is exactly what I wanted for my daughter and I am so happy I was able to show this to her. I just want her to love as much as she possibly can and as much as I do. I’m so happy that so many people felt the same way and wanted to feed and make sure there were paper plates and garbage bags. They covered every box and I want to say thank you to everyone.

I think a lot of people confuse what’s going on right now with hate. That’s not what it is. There’s so much love out here right now. There’s an unbelievable amount of love out here right now. All these people need food. All these people need water. All these people are peacefully sitting out here having lunch right now together because of one little small post on Facebook did.

I’m hoping for a better future for my daughter. I’m hoping there will be a day down the line that problems like this don’t even matter anymore — so it’s not even a thought for her. She is a biracial child so she will experience racism. If things don’t change, it’s a very sad future for my child. I wish things could be different. Hopefully, someone sees what I can do or what we can do if we just pull together and someone makes a change.

Tatum Lockhart: Sun Prairie, Wisconsin

Tatum Lockhart’s first day attending the protest was on June 2, 2020. She often led the crowd in chants, like “George Floyd,” “Breonna Taylor,” and “No justice, no peace.” (Maureen McCollum/WPR)

It feels great to know that many people of different backgrounds can come together and participate with each other and stand strong, stand as one and support the Black Lives Matter movement.

I came out here because I’ve been seeing the protest on the news. When I saw that horrific video of George Floyd, it really hurt my heart. I just couldn’t take it anymore. I have to support people no matter what.

I love the community. I’ve been in Wisconsin a long time. I’ve been here since I was 13, now I’m almost 30. I’ve been through a lot in Wisconsin. I’ve been through a lot of different situations where I was — even as a child — put in a predicament. I was made to feel bad because of my skin color. So, I can definitely relate. That’s why I just couldn’t sit down anymore.

It’s good to see a lot of young people coming out in Wisconsin starting the change. I feel very hopeful for the future. I just really want us all to come together. Even though this may change just a few minds, that’s enough. That’s enough to get people talking. Get people talking to their kids — changing the  atmosphere in Wisconsin.

I wish more people would support better resources. Have more training for police officers. I feel like police officers go through so much training, why are they not going through different cultural trainings, things to help them?

A lot of times, we may speak a certain way or do something a certain way. That does not mean we’re being aggressive; we’re just expressing ourselves. I don’t want our expression to turn into pain.

I want everyone in Wisconsin to realize that these people are peacefully protesting. We are protesting for the Black Lives Movement. We’re protesting for a better future. I hope everybody has it in their heart to be understanding of us. Put yourself in our place. George Floyd was somebody’s father. He was somebody’s son. He was somebody’s uncle. Put yourself in our place and just have some kindness and some understanding.

Taneshia Jackson: Madison, Wisconsin

Taneshia Jackson attended the Capitol demonstration on June 2, 2020 with friends and used social media to encourage others to come down. (Maureen McCollum/WPR)

Taneshia Jackson attended the Capitol demonstration on June 2, 2020 with friends and used social media to encourage others to come down. (Maureen McCollum/WPR)

This is a protest that needs to be heard. It’s peaceful. It’s positive. I’m here because I’m representing my people. I’m representing Black lives. I’m representing George Floyd, Tony Robinson, even Kenneka Jenkins. I’m representing the people who weren’t able to stand up and speak up for themselves.

I’ve been here for four hours. I was one of the first Black people out here. I went Live on Facebook to get more of us out here. The last four days, there’s been more whites than Blacks. But it’s united. It’s peaceful. I appreciate everyone who’s been here to protect us at nighttime doing the protest as well. We’re not out here rioting. We’re not out here looting. We’re not out here to break the laws. We’re out here to be heard.

My daughter, she’s five. We were watching it on the news when the looting was going on a couple of days ago. She’s scared, “Mommy, this is my city.”

She wanted to come with me today, but I told her, “No, if it gets crazy I don’t want anything to happen.” She’s at home. I know she’s thinking, “What is Mommy doing?” But I feel like I’m doing the right thing.

I have a dream. MLK would be proud of us. You know, he’d be real proud of us right now. It’s just a movement, starting a fresh movement. Our elders weren’t brave enough. But I’m here to say Black lives do matter. It’s not about all lives right now, I appreciate it, but Black lives matter the most.

I want my daughter to know that it’s ok at any time, in any moment to stand up for yourself. Stand up for your people. No matter where you’re at, no matter where you are. No matter how old you is, no matter how young you are. Just stand up. If it’s just you or if it’s a thousand people. Just let your voice be heard.

I hope that we can just really get it right. I’m 27. My uncle was a Chicago police officer my entire life. I have a sister who lives in Memphis, she became police two years ago. We just need to get it right. It’s not about the badge. It’s about the person behind the badge.

No justice, no peace. No justice, no peace.

Ebony Anderson-Carter: Madison, Wisconsin

I’m the only person out here who’s actually listening to these kids and letting them do their thing, but also enforcing peace as well. I’ve pretty much become a mother to all these kids. I’m not with any organization. Somebody donated a shirt for me, put my name on the back, so when it gets late, kids can find me.

I’ve been in touch with Madison Police dispatch. As far as last night, there were a lot of phone calls being made saying these kids were doing things they were not doing. There are people coming out here to light fireworks. They think it’s the police, they get afraid. There’s nobody out here to reinforce the positivity and let them know, “Hey, if they’re fighting over there, you don’t have anything to do with that. Leave them where they are. We’re going to stay over here.” And that’s what we’re doing. I’m still here making sure they’re safe. Making sure there is a clear divide that is shown because these kids are not looting.

We are confined to the Capitol. Tonight, we are having a peaceful picnic protest. Anyone is welcome. If you’d like to come out here and DJ, you can do that. If you play an instrument and you’d like to come out here and play a song, you can do that.

We just want people to come out here and fellowship. Get to know these kids. Come talk to these kids. Ask them what their needs are. Ask them what their wants are. Ask them what you can do for them.

This is a crisis. There should be therapists out here holding these kids’ hands. I don’t care about COVID — wear a mask. But these kids are asking for help.

Ebony Anderson-Carter next to the Forward Statue in Madison. (Maureen McCollum/WPR)

Ebony Anderson-Carter next to the Forward Statue in Madison. (Maureen McCollum/WPR)

So from Sunday [May 31, 2020] to now, this is all I’ve been doing. Sitting out here. Letting these kids get their point across. Respecting their boundaries. Respecting them as mature, young adults. Not questioning them and just making sure they’re safe and respected. I’m not letting nobody come in here and try to get clout off these kids. I’m not letting no community leaders come out and try to host a meeting. If anyone wants to host a meeting, you can form a panel. You can email me. I will post. People will share. And these kids will come and tell me what they need. Nobody can speak for these kids but these kids.

I’m sick of community leaders coming in here trying to go talk to Gov. Tony Evers. Pastors asking for this, asking for that. You’re not out here with these kids at night. Come talk to them. Come talk to us.

Money’s not going to where it needs to go. It needs to go to these kids. They want Fast Forward to be rebuilt. They want a better community center. They want things to do on Friday and Saturday nights, maybe until 1 or 2 o’clock in the morning. You know, they’re kids! They want an hour lunch. They want to be able to have parties after basketball games and football games. That’s what’s causing this.

I want these kids to have something to do. Let’s have Friday Night Lights. Let’s pack up busloads of kids and take them to the Dells. Let’s take them to the movies. Let’s throw parties for them. Let’s give them more constructive things to do. We want these kids off drugs. We want these kids to be more respectful to their parents. We need to be in their lives if we’re going to get any respect from them.

I have been at the hands of police brutality, so I understand. I just feel like on Sunday night, God put me where I needed to be at this current point in time. At this point, I’m just not fighting it. I’m going where he takes me and I’m helping these kids.

At this point, they’re helping me grow. They’re helping me be a better me. I’ve learned that I have more power than I present to people. I learned that I have a lot more common sense than I thought. I learned that I’m very determined. I learned that in some shape or form, I need to be in social services or law.

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MUSIC: “A Long Day” by Mally

Maureen McCollum

Maureen McCollum is the host and producer for Wisconsin Life on Wisconsin Public Radio. She loves live music, the bluffs along the Mississippi River, and eating too much cheese.
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