Two months after 19-year-old Black teenager Tony Robinson was fatally shot by Madison police officer Matt Kenny, Wisconsin prosecutors announced on May 12 that Kenny would not face criminal charges over the shooting.
Hundreds of people took to the streets in Madison in the immediate aftermath, Socialist Worker said on May 14, with more protests planned.
“I'm heartbroken,” Tony's mother Andrea Irwin, told CNN, speaking for thousands in Madison and many more people around the country. “I'm angry, and I'm more than upset.”
The unarmed teen was killed on March 6 by Kenny after the officer pursued Robinson into his friend's apartment and shot him seven times in a stairwell.
TeleSUR English said on May 12: “Family members of Robinson dispute the version of events presented by local law enforcement, saying that Robinson was not posing a threat to Kenny when he was shot. Police contend that Kenny, who was responding to a call about a disturbance, fatally shot the unarmed Robinson after 'a struggle ensued' between the two men.”
There have been ongoing protests to demand justice for Robinson. SW reported: “The recently formed Young, Black and Gifted coalition, the local incarnation of the national Black Lives Matter movement, has been the driving force in the organizing, which has included marches, direct actions, high school student walkouts, teach-ins and debates.
“Several times, the youth-led movement has shut down major thoroughfares like East Washington Avenue and John Nolen Drive.”
There were more protests after Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne announced there would be no charges.
SW reported: “Sweating profusely, Ozanne - who in August became the first Black district attorney in the history of the state - spent the better part of an hour explaining why he would allow Kenny to go scot-free for killing an unarmed teenager.
“Ozanne devoted most of that time to smearing the victim, describing reports that Robinson had been running in and out of traffic before he was killed, a toxicology report that revealed some legal and illegal substances in his system, and Robinson's past encounters with law enforcement - as if his previous record had some bearing on why he was shot seven times.”
Robinson's family and supporters reacted angrily. Irwin called Ozanne's conclusions inaccurate and slanted to favour the police.
The authorities wanted “to make it look like it was justifiable homicide, and it wasn't”, she said. “They have done a smear campaign against my child and against me since all this began, releasing things about my son that they knew were not true.”
SW said that the next day, Robinson's family attorney told the press that an independent investigation uncovered evidence that Kenny disobeyed an order to wait for backup before entering the house where he killed Robinson.
Responding to the media's speculation about the response to the failure to charge Kenny, Irwin said: “They keep asking if we'll be non-violent. The only ones being violent are the police.”
TeleSUR English said: “In 2014, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights expressed concern at the disproportionate number of young African Americans who had died in encounters with police officers.
“Criminal prosecution of police for misconduct is rare, compounded by the 'code of silence', under which police refuse to testify or cover up evidence, making the investigation and prosecution of these cases extremely difficult.
“The deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown and the subsequent decisions not to prosecute the officers responsible has sparked a nationwide debate as well as mass protests over race and police tactics.
“The most recent data from the National Police Misconduct Statistics and Reporting Project, run by the Cato Institute, found that conviction rates for crimes committed by the general public are around 30 percent higher than that of law enforcement officers.”