Hit-and-run becomes flashpoint between activists and Madison officials.

Madison activists criticized the city’s handling of Sunday’s hit-and-run near Wando’s that left one person injured. Photo: Madison Police Department, public domain.
Listen to the audio version of this piece here, originally aired on 6/22/20.

Author: Sam Buisman

Tensions between public officials and Madisionains mount as police continue investigating Sunday’s hit-and-run.

Around 2:30 A.M. on Sunday, a pickup truck drove into a crowd of around 150 people gathered outside of Wando’s Bar and Grill, injuring a pedestrian before speeding off. However, the response of Madison’s police, emergency services and public officials drew criticism from local activists.

Madison Police Department officers arrived on the scene shortly after the incident to clear a path for an ambulance but pepper-sprayed a member of the crowd while doing so.

Additionally, security camera footage shows an ambulance pulling in to pick up the victim roughly eight and a half minutes after the hit-and-run, but activists argued that Madison’s Emergency Medical Services responded too slow.

Lastly, while certain groups have urged the city to deem this a hate crime, as the woman hit by the truck is black, the MPD has not brought such charges although it is continuing its investigation.

Local nonprofit group Urban Triage, which has organized many of Madison’s George Floyd protests, skewered the city’s handling of this incident on their Facebook page.

“This response was clearly racist,” the group wrote, “a person who was injured from full-speed impact with a truck was not given the help she needed, and her community who was distraught at witnessing a hate crime was ignored and pepper-sprayed.”

On Monday afternoon, Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway called for “full transparency” in the MPD’s investigation and asked them to release any video they had of the incident but stopped short of urging any hate crime charges.

“I fully support hate crime charges when they are warranted,” wrote Rhodes-Conway.

At press time, the MPD has identified a suspect in this case but has not yet released any details about them or made an arrest.

WSUM will continue to follow this story and issue updates as they emerge.