Author: Sam Buisman
A sea of marchers flooded State Street on Sunday in an interfaith march for black lives.
Around 6:00 P.M. Sunday evening, thousands of protestors gathered at the intersection of University and Park to march down State Street to the Capitol Building to protest against the police killing of George Floyd and the inequities facing black Americans at large. Led by a team of religious leaders from multiple faiths, protestors sang spirituals and yelled chants while marching but halted after every eight minutes and 46 seconds, the length of time former officer Derek Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck, to allow a priest or rabbi to sermonize the marchers.
Marcher Wayne Strong, himself a retired Madison police officer, saw the event as a source for hope.
“We need peace in this world,” said Strong, “and I think that this is a good start, to see all of these people out here of different races, different backgrounds, coming together to say ‘hey, justice for all.’”
The size of this march was unprecedented in recent Madison history, with the packed crowd of marchers extending from the State Street Collectivo to the base of Bascom Hill.
Police blocked off roads to divert traffic away from the marchers but did not disrupt the march in any way.
Upon reaching the Capitol, marchers gathered around a PA system where a band played music and local activists delivered speeches.
Alder Barbara Harrington-McKinney also addressed the crowd, enshrining the significance of these last two weeks.
“Eight minutes and 46 seconds has changed history,” said Harrington-McKinney, “creating a defining moment in history where we can no longer defy the often-asked question: Do black lives really matter?”
Sunday marked the ninth straight day of protests in downtown Madison against police brutality and racist inequities in criminal justice sparked by the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Organizers at Sunday’s event and those earlier in the week promised that more is yet to come.