Our Hearts Break Today:
Asians for Black Lives Condemn the Non-Indictment
The news of the non-indictment breaks our hearts yet again. As Asians for Black Lives, we remember how our hearts
broke after Mike Brown's killer walked free. After Tamir Rice's killer walked free. After Rekia Boyd's killer walked free.
After Mya Hall's killer walked free.
Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne’s decision in the Tony Robinson case does not surprise us, as it follows
the recent chain of non-indictments in nearly every high profile shooting of an unarmed Black person. When police
officers are able to walk free even after their blatant abuse of power is documented, it is no surprise when Officer Matt
Kenny, a 13 year veteran on the police force, will be allowed to also walk free even though he shot Tony multiple times
and ended his life on March 6, 2015.
We hold our breath every time there is a chance that an officer might be indicted, but that moment passes as soon as
it arrives. The history of our country’s non-indictments of officers who use deadly force against our unarmed Black
neighbors and communities highlights, time and time again, our lack of accountability for police violence and brutality.
When we choose to not hold our officers accountable for their actions, we are telling them again and again that is okay
to shoot and kill our neighbors. In response to Baltimore’s call for a Black Spring, Asians for Black Lives are also
standing up in solidarity with our Black neighbors across the nation.
Tony Robinson’s murder is a direct result of state violence that has long existed in our state and our country, and that
violence needs to be addressed so that we won’t have another Tony Robinson murder on the hands of our State. In
Madison, the Young Gifted and Black Coalition is part of that movement that is addressing the racist policing that
stems from this violence. Like the Tony Robinson murder, arresting Black people in Madison at a rate of 11 to 1 is
state violence. Refusing to indict a police officer after blatant overuse of force is state violence. We can no longer
pretend that these issues are the fault of any one individual. These issues are structural, and require structural
solutions. Madison prides itself on being a liberal city. There is no shortage here of well-meaning white liberals--
people who vote Democrat, who believe in the abstract ideas of justice and equality, who believe that they are on the
right side of history. But well-meaning intentions do not translate to real power. Black people live under occupation in
this city, despite good intentions. If there is any hope of Madison losing its title of the worst place in the nation to raise
Black children, we need to build opportunities for Black people and build real power for Black communities.
Our community, our city, our nation is unable to hold police officers accountable because this country, at its core,
believes that killing Black communities is acceptable. In a nation built on racism, with a police force built on the control
of Black bodies, police departments structurally cannot be accountable to Black people. As today's non-indictment yet
again reminds us, police officers are allowed to kill Black people without even the premise of accountability. Our
"Madison Method" of policing, touted so highly by Chief Koval, is no different than any other city. The only way to make
police departments accountable to all the communities that they purport to serve is to give communities control over
the police. If the police have any chance of protecting and serving us, we need to have complete control of our own
policing and our own communities. Neighborhoods need the ability to hire and fire officers, to determine what safety
means to us, and to hold killer cops accountable. And we need to follow the lead of those most impacted--of Black
communities in Madison--to show us what community control over the police looks like in practice. Black communities
have been under occupation, and they need to show us the way to liberation.
Madison needs, and is experiencing, a wake-up call. Over the course of the last couple of months, we have seen the
Young Gifted and Black Coalition demonstrate what an empowered community looks like in practice. As Asian
Americans, we understand that we are part of that larger community in Madison, and we are part of a larger movement
towards justice. We are dismayed by media reports that frame the tactics used by Young Gifted and Black as
alienating to their supporters. We firmly believe that direct action is not only what is needed here, but it is what called
us to stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. There is no transference of power without direct action.
We further resist assumptions that as “the model minority,” Asians are not concerned with the impact of today’s
decision--we too are negatively impacted by state violence, and we too call for a systemic change. It is therefore our
responsibility, at a point of privilege as the “model minority” that we aid in the fight against state violence and racist
As Asians for Black Lives, our hearts break again today, and we renew our commitment to stand with Young Gifted and
Black until state violence against Black communities ends. We hope that you, too, are saddened by the message that
taking Black life in this community, this city, this country is not worthy of punishment. We ask that you join us in
standing with Young Gifted and Black Coalition until all of us can actually call Madison home.
-- Sasha W., Jackie Yang, Cristina Lor, Kabzuag Vaj, Zon Moua, Claire Tran, Lori Lopez, Kayleb Her
Asians for Black Lives (Madison)