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Madison mayor apologizes for video message to police

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Video courtesy city of Madison

MADISON (WKOW) -- Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes Conway is apologizing for a video message to police officers after it was widely criticized.

"I realize that this action has done deep harm to the Black community and for this, I apologize," she wrote Wednesday in a blog post.

When word of the video became public, criticism came from a wide variety of groups.

Urban Triage, a community group dedicated to empowering black lives, shared a copy of the video with the comment, "Does this sound like a woman you can trust to create the job description for the police auditor and supervise the auditor?" WATCH

And a Facebook page supporting police, called We Stand With The Madison Police Department, wrote, "if you know your police are doing well, get out there and say it publicly." WATCH

In the original, private video to police officers that was leaked, Mayor Rhodes-Conway affirmed the community policing work Madison officers have carried out, praised officer efforts in crowd control during the protest, and empathized with any officer resentment over protester tactics. "It must be absolutely infuriating to stand in heavy gear outside while listening to people constantly insulting your chosen profession," she said.

"It seemed to downplaying the protest in what they're saying is not legitimate," says Tyson Vitale, who's particpated in the activism. "People are out their fighting for their lives, people are out there because they're not safe in their communities," Vitale says. "To not be transparent about this is really disappointing."

"She has deceived her constituency," activist Nada Atman Steele says. "She's pitting people against each other for her political benefit."

Rhodes-Conway said she will learn from her mistakes.

"I realize I may have done irreparable harm with my actions," Rhodes-Conway wrote after the controversy erupted. "I realize too that I may have permanently lost any trust I may have had. But whether or not I regain trust, know that I am deeply committed to advancing the work of equitable systems change."

Read the mayor's full statement here:

Black lives matter. I believe deeply in this and yet I failed to center this in my message to the police department.

I realize that this action has done deep harm to the Black community and for this, I apologize.

I realize I may have done irreparable harm with my actions. I realize too that I may have permanently lost any trust I may have had. But whether or not I regain trust, know that I am deeply committed to advancing the work of equitable systems change. It’s why I ran for office, and it is the work that I will strive to do. I cannot promise that I will not make missteps along the way as a White woman learning how to facilitate such change, realizing that I cannot fully see the system that has been built up to benefit me and others like me. But I can promise that I will learn from those mistakes and I will strive to center equity in every decision.

While my learning and the work continue, in efforts to be transparent and have the community hold me to account, I post regular communications on my blog that I would encourage others to read to learn what we’re doing about criminal justice reform, economic development and community wealth building, affordable housing, and more—efforts to address the inequities that our existing systems have perpetuated.

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