MADISON (WKOW)-- Tuesday, The Young, Gifted and Black Coalition rallied at the City County Building, protesting the allocations of any funds to renovate the jail.
A proposal to study racial disparities in the jail and potential renovations to the jail was removed from the Public Protection and Judiciary Committee agenda, in the wake of the death of Tony Robinson.
Committee chair, Paul Rusk, says that was done out of respect for those who are grieving. But that didn't stop dozens from speaking out against the proposal.
The Young Gifted and Black Coalition blasted any plans to fund renovations for the jail. Eric Upchurch, a leader of the group say the death of Tony Robinson highlights the challenges minorities face in the city and within the justice system.
“If anything this tragedy energizes our need and the urgency of making the changes we've been fighting for,” Upchurch said. “Funding community based initiatives so that we can address in our own way racial disparities and hope to mitigate incurring another Tony Robinson.”
Following the rally, community members spoke out at the committee meeting. Rusk says he understands the changes people want to see, but says the jail also needs renovations.
“What happens if there's a fire on the 6th or 7th floor?” Rusk said. “People will die. The locks don't work.”
Rusk says in addition to safety renovations, the latest board proposal will study racial disparities.
“We're creatively creating 3 work groups to get at tremendous, we hope, recommendations and actual change sin the justice system that will reduce the disproportionate use of African Americans in our jail,” Rusk said.
Still Upchurch says his group is unwilling to support any money allocated to the jail.
“We're saying if you continue to invest in the criminal justice system instead of investing in our communities than you're investing in the same racism that killed Tony Robinson,” Upchurch said.
Rusk says the Public Protection and Judiciary committee will meet next Tuesday and he expects they will vote on the proposal.