Hundreds of people rallied in support of Madison police officers on Wednesday, as protesters elsewhere in the city gathered to condemn the officer-involved fatal shooting of 19-year-old Tony Robinson.
Jim Palmer with the Wisconsin Professional Police Association addressed a crowd of about 500 people gathered around the state law enforcement memorial on Madison’s Capitol Square.
“This event is meant to express our general support for law enforcement,” Palmer said. “It is not meant to disparage any one individual or group of individuals, and to the extent that there are any signs here that are insensitive, this event is not meant for you.”
The only signs on display at the rally carried messages of support for police officers. There was a moment of silence for shooting victim Robinson – and for fallen police officers.
Michelle – one of four organizers who did not provide last names – said the event was about showing support. “The next time you see an officer, stop and say ‘thank you for what you do every day,’ they do not hear it enough,” she said.
Madison Police Chief Mike Koval and Mayor Paul Soglin were on hand to meet and greet supporters.
Koval stressed the importance of waiting for the results of the state investigation into the death of Robinson, the unarmed biracial teen who was shot and killed last Friday night during what a police report described as a fight with a veteran white officer.
“But in the interim, I don’t want to have the entire police department defined in any shape or form by one incident involving deadly force,” he said.
Koval didn’t think his attendance at a rally in support of police is unreasonable, in light of the ongoing investigation. “No. I think I’m being fair,” he said, adding that he had marched earlier with a large group of mostly students who also rallied on Wednesday.