The recent shooting death of unarmed Black teen Tony Robinson by Madison, Wisconsin, police has once again set a community on edge.
Robinson, like many of the Black teens killed recently, has been painted as being in a twilight zone of morality. According to police, he had been arrested once before for armed robbery and pleaded guilty. The court system put the 19-year-old on probation, however, a family member described him as being caught between a middle class lifestyle and a “gangsta” life because of the friends with whom he associated.
Robinson was killed last Friday after a 911 call reported him running in and out of traffic as well as assaulting someone. Reportedly, the 911 dispatcher stated during the call “Apparently, Tony hit one of his friends, um no weapons seen.” About four minutes later, the dispatcher says, “I got another call for the same suspect at [the same address]. He tried to strangle another patron.”
Madison police officer Mat Kenny responded to the call and initiated a foot pursuit of Robinson, which led to an apartment building. Kenny forced his way into the apartment where Robinson, and according to Police Chief Mike Koval mutual combat ensued, with Robinson allegedly striking the officer and Kenny responded by shooting the unarmed teen.
The shooting has sparked widespread and vocal protests, including a mass student walkout from school as well as a protest at the state capital with several hundred in attendance. Once again, the air echoed with the refrain “Black Lives Matter” as protesters held up signs and made comparisons to the killing of unarmed teen Michael Brown by former Ferguson, Missouri, officer Darren Wilson.
Kenny has been placed on paid administrative leave while an investigation is underway into the shooting.
Wisconsin has a history of questionable police shootings and a law was passed last year that requires an independent investigation into all police shootings. In the meantime, Robinson’s family grieves and asks for calm in the community of Madison, which has a population of 240,000 with about 7 percent being Black. Robinson’s body has not been released to the family as investigators continue their work.