Madison mayor denounces downtown destruction after Kenosha shooting

    Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes Conway at the Capitol
    Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes Conway (photo by Ruth Conniff)

    On Tuesday morning, Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway issued a statement denouncing looting, broken windows and dumpster fires around the Capitol square in the wake of the officer-involved shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha. 

    “Our city honors the First Amendment and peaceful protests, but we draw the line on arson, theft, and criminal damage to property that puts people’s lives in danger,” the mayor said in her statement. “This behavior does not build a movement — it undercuts the movement, and in Madison, it divides a community that largely supports change.”

    According to a police report, a crowd gathered outside the Capitol building shortly after 9 p.m. on Monday night and marched down State Street, occasionally blocking traffic but remaining peaceful. 

    Later in the evening, according to police, the group of about 500 returned to the Capitol and were joined by others. In a second late-night march down State Street, “members of the group began engaging in destructive criminal activity in the downtown area.”

    That activity included numerous dumpster and trash fires, “widows were broken and multiple businesses were looted,” according to the police report. “One business was entered, and members of the crowd poured what appeared to be gasoline inside it, then attempted to start it on fire.” 

    The crowd threw rocks, bottles, and other projectiles at police, according to both the mayor and the police report. The police responded by spraying chemical agents into the crowd and by making six arrests.

     “MPD moved quickly to respond, and effectively interrupted looting in progress,” the mayor said in her statement.

    “It is time to work together to put our energy and our anger into more productive measures,” she continued. “There are so many options — reach out to your state representatives, county supervisors and city alders about legislative changes, and attend hearings and committee meetings. Work to make a difference in your community, by volunteering to help young people find jobs, internships, and mentors with life experiences similar to theirs. Support community centers and community-based organizations. And work for change at the federal level to bring the resources and support we need in our community.”

    Ruth Conniff
    Ruth Conniff is Editor-in-chief of the Wisconsin Examiner. She formerly served as Editor-in-chief of The Progressive Magazine where she worked for many years from both Madison and Washington, DC. Shortly after Donald Trump took office she moved with her family to Oaxaca, Mexico, and covered U.S./Mexico relations, the migrant caravan, and Mexico’s efforts to grapple with Trump. Conniff is a frequent guest on MSNBC and has appeared on Good Morning America, Democracy Now!, Wisconsin Public Radio, CNN, Fox News and many other radio and television outlets. She has also written for The Nation, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Los Angeles Times, among other publications. She graduated from Yale University in 1990, where she ran track and edited the campus magazine The New Journal. She lives in Madison, Wisconsin with her husband and three daughters.