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Madison sued over ‘racial quotas’ for Police Civilian Oversight Board

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Madison City Hall

MADISON (WKOW) -- Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) says it will sue the city of Madison over a race quota policy for its Police Civilian Oversight Board.

WILL announced the move Wednesday morning in a news release that said the city is on notice that an ordinance and resolution creating the new Police Civilian Oversight Board imposes "unconstitutional racial quotas."

WILL represents seven Madison residents challenging Madison’s decision to require nine members of the eleven-member Police Civilian Oversight Board to belong to specific racial groups – a clear violation of the Constitution’s ban on racial discrimination.

Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty

WILL President and General Counsel, Rick Esenberg, said this decision is a step back for the city.

“While it may represent the current zeitgeist, the City of Madison’s decision to insert racial quotas and classifications into law violates the Constitution’s ban on racial discrimination and equal protection before the law. The City of Madison may think they are advancing racial progress, but this policy is, in effect, cloaking deeply regressive policies of racial discrimination," Esenberg said.

In the fall of 2020, the Police Civilian Oversight Board was formed in an effort to create goodwill between the Madison Police Department and the community.

The Civilian Oversight Board’s purpose is to provide a body that is independent from the Madison Police Department, authorized to hire and supervise an Independent Police Monitor, and required to work collaboratively with the Office of the Independent Police Monitor and the community to review and make recommendations regarding use of force, hiring, training, community relations, complaint processes and other policies and activities.

City of Madison

In Madison General Ordinance 5.20, the city voted for a "diverse composition" of the group. At first, they voted to require four members of the board to belong to the following racial groups: “African American,” “Asian,” “Latinx,” and “Native American.”

According to the news release, Madison Common Council later added another racial quota requiring at least 50 percent Black members.

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