Young Gifted and Black Coalition aims to keep demonstrations peaceful after riots in Baltimore
Madison (WKOW)-- Tensions are running high in the city of Baltimore after a long day of violent demonstrations Monday. City officials say most of the demonstrations Tuesday were peaceful, but many residents are still concerned the violence will reawaken in the city.
Thousands of miles away in the city of Madison, city leaders and activists are watching with non-judging eyes, saying the situation in Baltimore is different than here in Madison and they're fairly confident local demonstrations will remain peaceful.
"We do not condemn or condone it. We understand it. We understand where it comes from," Young Gifted and Black Coalition organizer Matthew Braunginn says.
The violence in Baltimore pales in comparison to the state violence that has been perpetrated on the black community, Braunginn says. He criticizes the media's fascination with violent images while hundreds of other demonstrators peacefully protesting in Baltimore were grossly ignored.
"If you condemn those protestors, you need to condemn the state violence that caused it at a higher level than just those protestors, because that is just a reaction to the state violence that they are facing every single day of their lives," Braunginn says.
Up to this point Braunginn says demonstrations organized by the Young Gifted and Black Coalition have been peaceful and they're hoping to keep them that way. He says if agitators are found in their ranks they'll work to remove them and keep demonstrations safe, because their actions go against the group's plan.
"It is really just based upon communication, identifying agitators in our group and attempting to just stick with our own plans."
Mayor Paul Soglin says he has been glued to the television screen over the last 24 hours as the violence in Baltimore plays out on national media. He declined to comment on whether or not he's concerned about this type of violence coming to Madison, but says he's thinking of the city leaders who have worked to improve this struggling community.
"Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake is a marvelous mayor. I've never met a mayor who is committed and dedicated to the people they serve as she is," Soglin says.
"I just hope for the sake of all the people in Baltimore that this is not a setback on the city's revival. It shouldn't be."
Soglin also wouldn't comment on whether the district attorney's decision to provide 48 hours notice before releasing a decision on the Tony Robinson case would give agitators more time to organize and cause problems in Madison. However, he says regardless of the DA's decision, he's confident police and city officials will be able to manage the situation.
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