City alders, Mayor Soglin respond to East Towne Mall arrest - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

City alders, Mayor Soglin respond to East Towne Mall arrest

Posted: Updated:

MADISON (WKOW) -- Below are statements issued by Madison Mayor Paul Soglin and members of the Madison Common Council in response to the arrest of Genele Laird. Laird was arrested at East Towne Mall Tuesday afternoon. 

Both Soglin and members of the Common Council reference the $400,000 review of the Madison Police Department's policies and practices, which was approved in early June.

Joint statement from 11 city alders:

After taking a day to process and wait for the Mayor to publicly respond, we feel the need to speak to the community regarding the arrest at East Towne on Tuesday, June 21, 2016.

First, like many others, we watched what the video captured many times and cannot see past what seems like excessive aggression.

Second, this event has regrettably further divided our community and highlighted our tendency to take either-or positions: either one person or the other must be wrong.  In fact, both can be true.  Genele Laird allegedly made some poor choices and she will likely face consequences.  The same can be said for the responding officers.  However, we cannot disregard the power imbalance between a young person and trained law enforcement officers.

Third, this event does not signify that the Madison Police Department trains officers to use that level of aggression. We support and acknowledge the good, upstanding work police officers do on a daily basis in our community. However, events like this do affirm and deepen an existing lack of trust between people of color and the police department. They affirm that the community has the right to know the training, policies, procedures and culture of our police department.

Finally, it affirms that a thorough, transparent, and comprehensive review of the Madison Police Department is warranted and should be welcomed. 

We stand committed in continuing our involvement in the development of trust and understanding among all members of our community and the Madison Police Department.
Ald. Matt Phair, District 20
Ald. Barbara Harrington-McKinney, District 1
Ald. Ledell Zellers, District 2
Ald. Amanda Hall, District 3
Ald. Shiva Bidar-Sielaff, District 5
Ald. Marsha Rummel, Council President Pro Tem, District 6
Ald. Zach Wood, District 8
Ald. Maurice Cheeks, District 10
Ald. Sara Eskrich, District 13
Ald. Denise DeMarb, District 16
Ald. Rebecca Kemble, District 18

Mayor Paul Soglin:

The events of last Tuesday night will be the subject of discussion and review for some time.  As the mayor of Madison, I am constrained from discussing some of the specific details but that does not prevent me from making observations about some of the underlying issues.
First, there is the general matter of resisting arrest. We must have a better understanding of what kind of force can and will be used when an individual either resists arrest or interferes with an arrest, particularly where it is reported that a deadly weapon is involved.
As we discuss police policies and practices, that review must be broadened to include something distasteful and abhorrent to all of us, and that is the use of force. When the city goes to bid on the pending RFP on the subject, I can assure you that its scope will include an examination of the rules for officers and the public when officers give a command.
The most important issue to the parties in this instance, the young woman Genele Laird and the officers involved, will be the public review of their respective behaviors. Let the rest of us realize that they are important people and there are serious implications for their futures. As a community that cares, I hope, regardless of the findings, that we respect their humanity and dignity and wish them the best.
Lastly, there is what I perceive as the most important issue for Madison, the matter of race. I find our community divided. I can guarantee that my administration will continue to move forward with an open and candid discussion of the underlying issues which range from deep-seated institutional racism in this country, to the behaviors of each of us as individuals. I say this without directing criticism at the Madison Police officers or any of the witnesses.

Powered by Frankly