A multicolored fist with the names of people killed by racist violence State Street in Madison, WI.
Kambria's Corner Opinion

UW-Madison students need to pressure the City of Madison to take responsibility for Tony Robinson’s death

How can we feel safe when the people who are supposed to protect us from danger present a larger danger to us? We can’t. Not only do we need Kenny fired, but we need the same motivation for racial justice that we saw in the summer of 2020.

Six years ago, on March 6, 2015, Madison Police officer Matt Kenny fatally shot unarmed Black 19-year-old Tony Robinson. 

His death was felt deeply in the Madison community and sparked anger at the justice system for doing nothing. Kenny still is a free man with a badge. 

The City of Madison did not file charges against Kenny, and he was found not at fault by the Dane County district attorney. Madison Police Department claims that the shooting brought change in the department. Now, Kenny teaches meditation to other officers.

The first step should have been firing Kenny. Robinson’s death was not an accident, but a pattern. According to CNN, Kenny’s first shooting of a civilian happened a few years prior. He took away Ronald Brandon’s life. He received a medal of valor for that shooting. Once again, in a different story, Kenny took away Robinson’s life. For this shooting Kenny received no legal punishment and kept his job. Worst of all, as a police officer Kenny is supposed to “protect and serve” the Madison community. 

Robinson’s grandmother — Sharon Irwin-Henry — has started a petition to reopen the case. Irwin-Henry and many others believe Kenny committed perjury on the stand, according to Channel 3000. An article by MSNBC shared information from Robinson’s toxicology reports which stated that Robinson had taken psychedelics that night and was having a negative experience. The cops were called to evaluate the situation and help Robinson. Instead, he lost his life. There were two people who knew exactly what happened that night and one of them is dead. 

Forensic evidence refutes Kenny’s responses during the trial suggesting that Kenny committed perjury. The district attorney’s office and the MPD haven’t recently commented on the shooting, but Irwin-Henry’s fight for justice isn’t over. 

“If we cannot get the help from the city, we are asking for help from the people,” Irwin-Henry said in an interview with Channel 3000.

How can we feel safe when the people who are supposed to protect us from danger present a larger danger to us? We can’t. Not only do we need Kenny fired, but we need the same motivation for racial justice that we saw in the summer of 2020. Protests may have died down, but the message remains the same. Six years later we are still fighting for Tony Robinson to not be another statistic. 

Robinson’s family eventually received a settlement for $3.35 million as noted by the Wisconsin State Journal. There’s no amount of money that could bring back Tony Robinson. Or Tamir Rice. Or Breonna Taylor. Or any of the other Black individuals whose lives were taken away by the people we entrust to protect us. There is no price you can pay to bring back members of the Black community.

We are still fighting for Black individuals who die at the hands of the police to not die in vain. University of Wisconsin-Madison students are the people of Madison. Most importantly, the students of UW-Madison are politically aware and are the loudest voices in the Madison community. We need to keep fighting now not only for Tony Robinson, but for the safety of every Black person in Madison.

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