The head of Madison’s police department is responding to demands from a group that’s part of a nationwide effort to protest law enforcement practices.
In recent months, members of the Young, Gifted, and Black Coalition have held numerous “die-ins” and blocked traffic in various parts of Madison – a city they claim is the most racist in the country based on incarceration rates. Late last week, the group sent Madison Police Chief Mike Koval a letter of demands, such as the immediate release of 350 black people from the Dane County Jail, and an ongoing demand to release 350 black people every month going forward.
A certain request seems to have really ruffled Chief Koval’s feathers. The group said the relationship they want with police is no relationship.
In a blog post released Monday, Koval calls the request “untenable” and questions how members of the coalition came to that conclusion. He says that the response he’s heard at community forums has actually been the opposite of what the group is asking. “People in our neighborhoods rely on our assistance and hope that our influence will make these challenged neighborhoods safer. Are you really advocating that the police abdicate our responsibilities to these folks?”
Koval writes further, “I’m fed up with my Department being blamed for everything from male pattern baldness to global warming. It is time for Young, Gifted, and Black to look a lot deeper at the issues besetting our people of color and stop pandering to the “blame game” of throwing my Department to the wolves. I’m done with allowing this kind of rhetoric to go unchallenged.”
Koval says facilitating the group’s activities has not been easy. He adds that using a bull horn on private property to drop “f-bombs” or other profanity to bring attention to a cause is not protected speech and will subject the speaker to sanctions. Koval says that’s been explained to the group in private and now it is being noticed in a public forum.
The chief closes by admitting they “probably cannot achieve complete “consensus” in determining how our City will dismantle racial disparities,” he argue the complex issues are unlikely to be solved unless everyone is held accountable.