Wisconsinites — from activists to professional basketball players to politicians to concerned citizens — took to the streets once more on Sunday to take part in ongoing protests following the death of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody last month.
Sunday is the 10th day in which marches and rallies have been held in many of Wisconsin's major cities, becoming a daily fixture of life. The demonstrations are seeking support for a range of social justice issues, including dismantling institutional racism, ending police brutality and reforming criminal justice system, among others.
The protests came as a majority of members of the Minneapolis City Council publicly pledged to dismantle their city's police force, and replace it with a new public security system — a move that aligns with what many protesters have called for.
Madison March Honors Floyd, Pausing Every 9 Minutes
On Sunday evening in Madison, hundreds of people gathered at University Avenue and Park Street, a major intersection on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus, before marching to the city's Capitol Square.
The African American Council of Churches organized the march, which stopped every 8 minutes and 46 seconds, representing how long former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin’s knee was on Floyd’s neck before he died. Chauvin has been charged with second-degree murder.
At least a dozen Madison police officers were at the march, including Chief Victor Wahl. Dane County District Attorney Ismael R. Ozanne also attended the event.
She said it was the first march she has been able to attend this week, and that she’s been signing petitions and doing some political organizing.
The Rev. Marcus Allen, of Mt. Zion Baptist Church, addressed the crowd before it began marching. He said protesters weren't there just because of Floyd's killing "but, also because of the many years of oppression to black people." He said the march had brought people of different religions together in the name of justice.
"Justice does not have a religion, justice does not possess a race. Justice is blind, but it demands that all are treated fairly and with equality," Allen said.
Other faith leaders addressed the crowd during the pauses in the march, including Rabbi Betsy Forester, of the Beth Israel Center. Forester, who is white, urged other white people to step up in the fight for racial justice.
By the time the march got to the Square, the crowd gathered on the lawn had grown to at least 1,000 people. The group played music, sang and listened to speeches.
Speaking at the event, Madison YWCA CEO Vanessa McDowell called on white people to be "co-conspirators" in the movement, saying the word "ally" has been overused.
"Do something tangible that will empower the black community," McDowell said.
She said tangible actions could include fighting gentrification and donating to organizations led by black women.
Lilada Gee, another speaker, said she is tired of black women not being represented in groups that have power. Gee has founded multiple organizations that support black women and girls. She also argued black women who have suffered police violence are less well-known than their male counterparts.
"Year after year, decade after decade, century after century, we remain largely silent over the atrocities that have devoured the bodies, the spirits, the minds of little black girls and black women," Gee said.
Madison Alder Barbara Harrington-McKinney also spoke, calling on the community to do more to support Madison Common Council President Sheri Carter, also in attendance. Harrington-McKinney said she was "sick and tired" of Carter having to stand up by herself on some issues.
Earlier in the day, Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway released a statement pledging to review the city police department’s use-of-force policy and "pursue commonsense policy reforms." The statement was a response to former President Barack Obama's call for mayors and city council members across the country to review local policies.
Basketball Players March, Rally In Milwaukee
A rally and march in Milwaukee featured members of the Milwaukee Bucks on Sunday afternoon. The team, including players, coaches, staff and ownership, held a protest march in support of social justice at the plaza outside of the Fiserv Forum beginning at 1 p.m.
Player Sterling Brown called for a 9-second moment of silence for Floyd, one second for each minute former Chauvin had his knee on Floyd's neck before he died.
The Bucks star has raised his own questions about law enforcement. Brown is involved in a lawsuit with the Milwaukee Police Department. He accused officers of using excessive force and targeting him because he's black when they confronted him over a parking violation.
After speaking, Brown led the between 200 and 300 people on a march to Veterans Park at Milwaukee's lakefront.
Erin Cherry, of Milwaukee, said she attended the march because she has noticed so much racism in Milwaukee, especially when talking to friends who are black. Cherry was adopted when she was 1 year old from India.
"I know a lot of my friends, who are black have said they have encountered racism, and I want to do something to help them and show them I support the black community," Cherry said.
She said she doesn't think she experiences blatant racism, but sometimes people ask insensitive questions.
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"Sometimes, people just ask me: 'Are you from this country? What's your real name?'" Cherry said. "I was very blessed to have a family that is diverse. They raised me to understand race."
Erik Thorson, of Racine County, said he's old enough to have lived through the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy, his brother Bobby Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the 1960s. He said he doesn't think the world has changed much since then.
"I believe in my heart there are thousands and thousands of good policemen out there, but I think they have to stop protecting the bad ones, period. And they can't worry about retribution from their own police department," Thorson said.
When the Bucks' group arrived at Veteran's Park, they converged with thousands of protesters who were connected to several other groups, including an accessible march for Black Lives Matter for people with disabilities, and a march with PRIDE for Black Lives Matter.
Other demonstrations were held around the city.
According to WITI-TV, hundreds of youth and their parents marched from Parklawn Assembly of God Church to Sherman Phoenix during a youth rally for "Young. Gifted. & Black".
A march, titled March With Pride For #BLACKLIVESMATTER, was planned at the Henry W. Maier Festival Park and a "Pray for Milwaukee" event was planned at Dr. Martin Luther King and Hadley.
An event, called "MKE Unite Chalk the Sidewalk," was slated for early Sunday in front of the Milwaukee Art Museum.
In Green Bay, a "Protest March for Racial Justice" happened on Sunday. According to the Green Bay Press Gazette, authorities are estimating 1,000 people appeared for the protest.
Saturday's Protests Spread Through State
Rallies and marches were held Saturday in Madison and Milwaukee, where much of the protest activity has been focused. However, Wausau, Green Bay, Ashland and other cities around the state saw demonstrations.
In Madison, a group of demonstrators gathered at the Capitol Square Saturday afternoon for a protest and march centered on disparities in health care and infant and maternal mortality rates among black people.
In Milwaukee, at least nine events were scheduled Saturday. Protesters organized by El Pueblo MKE met at the Mitchell Park Domes in Milwaukee to march across the 16th Street Bridge. Organizers said they were marching across the bridge in solidarity with the Black Lives Matters movement, and when they arrived, they took a knee.
Families and educators came together for a chalk event in Milwaukee that began at 3 p.m. at the intersection of North 99th Street and Good Hope Road. Attendees planned to make their way to Milwaukee Police Chief Alfonso Morales' house for a peaceful gathering.
Giannis Antetokounmpo and several other Milwaukee Bucks players joined one of the protests Saturday as it traveled down 27th Street. Antetokounmpo spoke to the crowd and handed out water to protesters. Antetokounmpo was joined by Sterling Brown, Donte DiVincenzo and Brook Lopez among others. All wore masks and matching T-shirts that read "I can't breathe."
In Wausau, about 1,500 protesters rallied and marched through the city Saturday morning and early afternoon. During the march, protestors crossed Scott Street Bridge and rallied in front of Wausau City Hall. At one point, demonstrators took to their knees and held a moment of silence for 8 minute 46 seconds, representing the amount of time Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin held his knee on Floyd's neck.
In Green Bay, protesters gathered at City Hall in support of Black Lives Matter.
Editor's note: Stay tuned for continuing coverage. Corrinne Hess, Hope Kirwan, David Hyland, Laurel White, Erik Lorenzsonn and Hannah Haynes contributed to this report.