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Black Rights Coalition Blocks Traffic With ‘Counter-Inauguration’ In Madison

Protesters Also Take Stand Against Proposed Dane County Jail Renovation

Protesters with the coalition Young, Gifted and Black marched to the top of State Street as part of a "counter-inauguration" on Monday. Photo: Gilman Halsted/WPR News.

A Madison-based coalition called Young Gifted and Black held a counter-inauguration at the state Capitol on Monday to call for radical changes in the state’s policing and criminal justice policies.

A group of about 50 protesters in the middle of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard blocked traffic while holding a banner that read Black Lives Matter” before marching around the Capitol Square. Organizer Brandi Grayson said the group believes Gov. Scott Walker’s policies are contributing to poverty and violence in poor black communities.

“We are inaugurating ourselves as freedom fighters for the black liberation movement,” said Grayson. “We are here to take power back from the state and switch it to our communities. We will not continue to allow state violence against people of color and poor people.”

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The Young, Gifted and Black coalition also led a protest on Madison’s north side on Saturday. Photo: Gilman Halsted/WPR News.

The group also presented a list to Dane County Executive Joe Parisi and Madison Mayor Paul Soglin demanding that funds earmarked for renovating the county jail be used instead to fund programs in the city’s poor neighborhoods.

The group had previously protested the proposed jail project on Saturday on Madison’s north side, shutting down traffic for 45 minutes on a busy four-lane road and chanting, “No new jail or we’ll raise hell.”

One spokeswoman for the group said it’s using disruptive direct action to demand more local control of law enforcement in poor communities.

“Communities should be telling the police what to do instead of the police telling us what to do,” she said. “If a society is going to have police, we’re modeling what that relationship with the police should look like.”

At the event at the state Capitol, the group took an oath to work toward community control of policing in poor black neighborhoods in cities across the state.