Crowds press for police changes in the wake of Floyd homicide.
Peaceful protests by day, destruction by night.
It is a theme playing out across Wisconsin since demonstrators began rallying Saturday to condemn the killing of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers May 25.
In Madison, a portion of John Nolen Drive, a popular thoroughfare through the downtown area, was blocked for several hours in the late afternoon as demonstrators gathered and started dancing. Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway joined them.
As with previous nights, destruction of downtown businesses began after the 9:30 p.m. curfew took effect. According to press reporters, there were minimal police officers present overnight in Madison.
A GoFundMe Downtown Emergency Relief page, as of Tuesday morning, had raised roughly $156,000 toward a $200,000 goal. The fund was created by Michael Johnson, president & CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of Dane County.
In Milwaukee, officials ordered a curfew for a third straight night and city officials are urging residents to stay home at night to prevent further arrests and damage to buildings. More than 100 people there have been arrested related to protests and dozens of businesses have been vandalized or burned.
City leaders in Green Bay and surrounding communities also instituted curfews after protest events there led to looting of buildings and arrests. On Sunday buildings there were damaged, shots were fired at a convenience store, and at least one person was injured after protesters clashed with police.
However, protest gatherings in other parts of Wisconsin occurred peacefully. For example, about 200 people attended a rally in Stevens Point on Sunday to protest Floyd’s death. A similar event occurred Friday in Wausau.
At least two cities, Eau Claire and Appleton, have had two protest events in recent days. More than 1,000 people attended a protest in Appleton Saturday, and hundreds gathered Monday to speak against Floyd’s death. Similarly, a protest march Sunday in Eau Claire attracted about 1,000 participants, and on Monday hundreds convened at the city’s Phoenix Park to express outrage at police violence against Black people.
Attendees at Monday’s protest in Eau Claire urged a continued effort toward changing policies and attitudes that discriminate against people of color.
“What I need you to do is keep showing up, keep coming out,” Jaylin Carlson, who helped organize the Eau Claire protests, told an audience of several hundred attending Monday’s protest.