Community leaders hold public discussion following officer-invol - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Community leaders hold public discussion following officer-involved shooting

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MADISON (WKOW) -- Community leaders held a public discussion Saturday evening in Madison as a way for people to ask questions and vent their opinions on the officer-involved shooting death of a 19-year-old man.

Fountain of Life Church hosted the gathering, featuring speeches from religious leaders and community activists. It was an emotional afternoon, as the crowd showed their support for the family of Tony Robinson, who was shot and killed by an officer Friday evening.

Robinson's extended family members read a statement from Robinson's mother and members of the audience got up to hug them throughout the evening.

It was a rather quiet way to support the family until Kaleem Caire, formerly with the Urban League of Madison took the microphone. His emotional demand for the community to look to themselves for change brought a standing ovation from the crowd.

"What are you gonna do? Don't be mad at the Madison Police Department. That officer killed the kid, not the entire police department. Now that officer is a part of the Madison Police Department and I want to ask Chief Koval, what are you gonna do?" Caire said, getting fired up.

Caire continued with a call to Koval, asking him to send the community the right message in the way he responds to the shooting death.

After hearing from Caire, those who attended the discussion had a chance to step up and share their opinions and suggestions to bring the community together. Keetra Burnette, with United Way of Dane County was one of the first to speak up.

"It's not OK for us to lower the bar for our boys and our young men," Burnette told the group. "We have to let them know that the bar is high and it's expected that they do great things."

Rev. Alexander Gee with Fountain of Life tells 27 News Madison is not short on ideas or people to carry out those ideas to improve the community, but there needs to be resources to make sure the ideas are supported.

"We've got to keep doing the preschool work, the after school work, the youth employment," says Gee. "We've got to help men coming out of prison, we've got to continue the mentoring, we've got to give boys hope and strengthen African American families. We know how to do it, we know who can do it, we know where it's being done. The question is, will we resource these efforts so we can make the change we want?"

Religious leaders at the discussion continued to emphasize the importance of supporting Robinson's family moving forward through the investigation into his death.
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