Author: Sam Buisman
Clashes between protesters and police in downtown Madison continued into their second night on Sunday.
Around 6:00 P.M., a group of several hundred marchers stomped down State Street and circled the Capitol Building in a continuation of Saturday’s protests demanding justice for George Floyd, a black man who was choked to death by a white Minneapolis police officer who handcuffed him and knelt on his neck, and for with police reform.
The crowd continued marching past the 9:30 P.M. curfew set by Madison Mayor Rhodes-Conway the night before, but according to Madison Police Department Lt. Kipp Hartman, the MPD initially decided not to arrest protesters for curfew violations.
Shortly after 10:00 P.M., the MPD determined that the crowd had “become violent,” alleging that protesters were throwing rocks at the police and assaulted an officer, and began to use tear gas to disperse the crowd. However, certain reporters and protestors present at this standoff dispute these claims and argue that the MPD instigated yesterday’s violence by rushing to use force on a peaceful protest.
State Street then spiraled into another night of chaos, with looting, fires, destruction, militarized police and the National Guard seething through downtown Madison.
Some Madison officials, including Alder Max Prestigiacomo, whose district includes most of the UW Madison campus, criticized law enforcement over their tactics.
“Why are peaceful protesters being violently attacked by MPD and the national guard,” wrote Prestigiacomo on Twitter. “FOR WHAT?? Violence most definitely should not be used to enforce a curfew. This is shameful.”
According to the Madison Police Department, police arrested 15 people last night, and an unenumerated number of officers were injured by projectiles.
At press time, the City of Madison has not extended its curfew into tonight, although it remains in a state of emergency until June 3.
Update, 6/1/20 6:15 P.M.: Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway ordered an extension of the downtown curfew to cover June 1 at 9:30 P.M. to 5:00 A.M. on June 2, and from 9:30 P.M. on June 2 to 5:00 P.M. on June 3. More details are available here.