Status: complete


Madison, Wisconsin

This started 3 years ago, when Trayvon Martin was killed by a wanna-be police officer in Florida. Trayvon only got to live for 17 years; he barely got to live. The situation worsened last year, when Michael Brown was shot by a police officer in Ferguson. Michael was just a year older, 18; he was my age. Ever since then, it kept happening. In Missouri, in New York, in Ohio. Tamir Rice was the youngest case; only a 12 year old kid who was playing with a BB gun.

All the news headlines tell me that I should be fearful. I get the feeling that I might be next. I didn’t realize until two days ago that it’s actually scarier when someone else in your home town and state is next instead. Tony Robinson was unarmed last Friday, when he was murdered by a white police officer named Matt Kenny. I keep hearing that Tony was biracial, but I’ve never heard his racial background exactly. Tony died at 19 years old, a year after he graduated from Sun Prairie High. I don’t go there, but I go to Madison East High in Madison, Wisconsin.

My friends from school, and other students from Madison high schools, passed it around Facebook that they planned a march for Monday the 9th of March to protest Tony’s shooting. I joined the protest at 12 p.m. on Main Street and 4th Avenue. Now at 3 p.m., there must be over a thousand teenagers on the streets and my section of protesters was pushed to the state Capitol building. There are students laying on the floor of the building, students standing on the three balconies surrounding the lobby, and students sitting on the lawn outside. I’m on the second balcony.

It takes a while, but after 40 minutes, we find a rhythm. First, everyone on the ground chants “black lives matter.” Then everyone on the balconies follows with “we want justice.” I know that they are hearing us, it’s impossible that they aren’t, now it is just a matter of waiting for their response. I look around me, while keeping up my part of the chant, to glance at the posters my classmates, people I knew and talked to, are holding up. I see banners with the words we’re saying on them. I see pictures of Tony with “rest in power” written across the bottom. I see posters that say “I could be next” and “pray for Tony.” Then I look at the people holding the signs. There are 14-year-olds and 18-year-olds, black students and white students, girls and boys, short people and tall people, fat people and skinny people. We’re all here to stand in solidarity, to show our anger, and to combat our fears.

“I need to speak to you,” a man calls out, standing at the back of lobby with a microphone in his hand. “Please, quiet down, I need to speak to you,” he cautions, as the chanting slows to a halt. The white police officer patiently waits. “My name is Michael Koval. I am the police chief in Madison, I’d like to tell you something… Reconciliation cannot begin without my stating 'I am sorry,' and I don't think I can say this enough. I am sorry. I hope that, with time, Tony's family and friends can search their hearts to render some measure of forgiveness,” Michael proclaims sincerely. He went on to tell us that an investigation of Matt Kenny is underway, that we need to be patient, and that he can’t give out information because it would taint witness testimony.

Mr. Koval doesn’t understand. The shootings of non-white, unarmed teenagers will not end with an apology only. The injustice will end with forcing the consequences of murder upon crooked, racist police officers that believe walking down a street in a hooded sweatshirt is reason enough to shoot someone. I should not be afraid of walking through my neighborhood at night. I should not be ashamed of the color of my skin.
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thank you for reading. i hope you enjoyed!