Activists groups and Madisoninas malign Chief Wahl, MPD in open letter.

The letter demands the permanent police chief have a devotion to racial justice and be recruited from outside the MDP. Photo: Cliff, licensed under creative commons. Graphic: Sam Buisman

Author: Sam Buisman

A coalition of Madison activist groups and over 200 signatories tarnish the leadership of Acting Madison Police Chief Vic Wahl in an open letter published Wednesday. 

The letter, signed by Urban Triage, the Community Response Team and Disability Pride amongst other advocacy groups and hundreds of Madisonians, expresses a vote of no confidence in Chief Wahl and the MPD as a whole over what they describe as a demonstrable pattern of anti-Blackness. The signatories demand the Madison Police and Fire Commission to replace Wahl with a new chief recruited from outside the MPD with a reputation for anti-racism and community outreach and that the department be reformed to better protect Black lives. 

“The next chief hire is an opportunity we should not neglect for Madison to demonstrate its commitment to ending police terrorization of Black communities,” reads part of the letter’s opening.

The letter accredits its accusations against Wahl and the MPD by walking through a series of statistics and specific cases. 

The authors reference a Wisconsin State Journal analysis concluding that Black Madisonionas were 10 times more likely to be arrested than white Madisonains, along with other stats demonstrating Black people disproportionally make up Madison’s traffic stops and jail inmates. 

Additionally, the letter references over 12 recent cases where they argue the MPD’s conduct reflected racial prejudice against Black Madisonians, including the MPD’s handling of the protests following George Floyd’s murder, the arrest of Devonere Johnson, and Sunday’s harassment of a trio of black artists

The letter concludes with a demand for city officials to select a permanent police chief other than Wahl with the capacity and drive to bring anti-racist reforms to the MPD. 

At press time, Wahl, the MPD nor other prominent Madison officials have commented on this letter. WSUM will continue to follow this story and issue updates as they emerge.