MADISON (WKOW) — Although Tony Robinson’s death happened three years ago, there is still pain and distrust between parts of the community and police in Madison. Several city leaders say there’s a long way to go to bridging the gap.
It was a deadly officer involved shooting that sparked months of outrage in Madison. Tony Robinson, 19 years old at the time, was unarmed when he was shot and killed by a Madison police officer.
“I think it caused all of us to hold our kids closer. I think it caused us to have a discussion about some uncomfortable topics,” said Rev. David Hart.
He said, although there’s been progress in building trust between communities of color and police, there’s still room for improvement.
“I think everybody sees like there’s some effort being made and we look forward to more effort being made in the future,” Hart said.
Keetra Burnette with the United Way of Dane County agrees.
“Even today we still feel a lack of trust, lack of understanding,” she said.
She’s a part of a group of local leaders, including law enforcement, that tries to move Madison forward, together.
“It is an attempt to build trust,” Burnette said.
The Law Enforcement and Leaders of Color Collaboration has already seen some success.
“The biggest change that we saw across the police departments across Dane County was the support and more resources being allocated to deescalation training,” said Burnette.
But in a statement to 27 News, regarding use of force, a Madison Police Department spokesman said, “… it is an evolving document and changes have been made in recent years, but none because of Tony Robinson.”
The spokesman also said, “The anniversary of Tony Robinson’s death will always serve as a painful reminder of the fragility of life. It is a date that is no doubt difficult for the Robinson family, his friends, and our community. MPD will continue our best efforts to promote a healing process.”
Burnette and others say more needs to be done to better relations, noting an open dialogue between the community and police won’t be enough.
“There’s always that ‘what if something else were to happen’ or when certain things happen even now locally — having the space to have those conversations is one thing but it’s not a prevention,” she said.