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“Black lives must matter to us.” Community leaders call for end to gun violence


Leaders of Madison’s Black community are calling on City and County government, business and civic leaders to work together to end the escalating gun violence Madison has seen in recent months.

Madison police said they’ve recorded 143 shots fired incidents in 2020, an 88 percent increase over the first half of 2019. That includes 29 incidents in June and 44 in July, both record-setting numbers.

Madison Common Council president Sheri Carter called a press conference at Penn Park Wednesday after 11-year-old Anisa Scott was caught in crossfire on Tuesday. 

Later Wednesday, Scott’s family announced that she would be removed from life support at 11:11 am Thursday.

At the Penn Park event, Carter appealed directly to those perpetrating gun violence.

“Black lives must matter to us as Black people as well,” she said. “We need to stop the hate. Stop the retaliation, put down the guns. The collateral damage is too great of a burden for you to bear and carry throughout your life … I come to you today with the community behind me to say to you, youth and young adults, we are not ignoring you. We care about your future, but the path that some of you are taking will lead you to death or prison. That’s the path you are on today. And this is a path that the community standing here today cannot accept for your future.”

Carter said programs and potential solutions would be offered in the coming weeks, but did not offer specifics.

“Enough is enough,” said Focused Interruption Coalition founder Anthony Cooper. “We’re tired of all of this stuff going on with all the shootings that are happening in our community. We need the government to come together. We need our community organizations to come together, because this is all of our problems. This is just not, this is just not a single incident. This is just not a stroke of luck that this stuff is happening here in our community. We need help. So … City, County, either y’all gonna help us or move the hell out the way, because this is the time that stuff has to change.”

JustDane peer support specialist James Morgan said there has to be more action than talk.

“Black people in the city of Madison have, for all intents and purposes, lived in communities of confinement. We have not had access to the resources — financial, educational, wealth-building,” he said. “It just has not come to fruition. We’ve had commissions to study race in this city, disparities in this city, you get a blue ribbon committee together. And then it goes on the shelf, and it’s costing people their lives.”

Morgan said he’d spent 30 years “in a cage,” incarcerated in prison.

“The message to you, young people who are doing this, they have a place for you,” he said. “If you think you can’t breathe now, believe me, you won’t breathe then.”

But he also said the violence comes not from malice, but from pain.

“Black men have been trying to be men based on European ideas and concepts. And that’s about domination and control,” he said. “So is there any wonder in their powerlessness that they turn their pain against one another? We can yell and scream at them all day long, but they’re in pain.”

Marcus Allen, pastor of Mt. Zion Baptist Church, said the people perpetrating the violence need guidance from people who can meet them where they are. 

“I’m not in the streets. I don’t know what goes on in the streets,” he said. “I also know that whoever is in the streets is not going to listen to me. So we need those who are in the streets and know the streets to speak life to these young men, to speak into their lives and give them hope that what they see, their vision in front of them now, Is not what it will always be, but there is a better place, a better job, a better economy.”

A Facebook fundraiser for Anisa Scott’s family has raised over $40,000.