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Protesters stop traffic at intersection to speak with Acting Police Chief

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Vic wahl and protesters
WKOW photo
Devonere Johnson, 28, who also goes by the name Yeshua Musa, with acting Police Chief Vic Wahl during protests in Madison in the summer of 2020.

MADISON (WKOW) -- When protesters blocked off East Washington Avenue and Stoughton Road Saturday, one of their main goals was to speak with Madison's police chief, and he showed up to meet with the crowd.

"I am absolutely, fully, on board with meeting with you, meeting with him, to talk about ways we can improve, build trust and move forward," Acting Chief Vic Wahl said to protesters.

That was what organizer Yeshua Musa wanted to hear when he put the protest on. Acting Chief Wahl gave him a business card to set up a more formal meeting.

But other protesters wanted him to give them concrete answers as to how he would be able to improve police relations with the African American community.

"When we put our budget forth, it's going to be with a plan to be as good as we can be as a police department and it's up to the mayor and the city council to decide where the priorities are," Wahl said.

That wasn't enough for those looking to defund the police department.

This specific group called for the city to take $20 million out of the MPD budget and put to public programs to address housing, education and community support.

"Would you be willing to take money out of your budget to put into our 'budget,' to put into our cause, are you willing to do that? All we want to know is yes or no," one of the protesters asked Wahl.

"What I've said is: No, because I think that's going to have the exact opposite effect of what people want, because you're not going to get as good training, you're not going to get as good police officers," Wahl responded.

While the crowd didn't seem to react favorably to Wahl's responses to many of their questions, Musa felt it was a step in the right direction.

"Well it's good to see him come here because it shows that they are potentially trying to be human," he said. "It's good to see them take that step forward amend that relationship between the African American community."

Francisco Almenara

Reporter, WKOW

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