MADISON, Wis. – A group of demonstrators painted the message of “Defend Black Women” on Doty Street in Madison’s Downtown Monday night.
The event, organized by Madison-based non-profit Freedom Inc., was the first event in a week of Gender Justice Action.
“We think it’s really important for people to understand that defunding the police is also a gender justice issue,” said Jessica Williams, who serves as the Gender Justice Director for Freedom Inc.
Williams, who also serves Free the 350 Bail Fund, says the group was successful in bailing out every Black woman from the Dane County jail.
“We focus on women because we know women are pillars to our communities,” Williams said. “Women are the ones that do the care taking. They’re usually the breadwinners or primary caretakers in their communities.”
On Monday, the group raised $100,000 and bailed out Kenyairra Gadson, a 23-year-old woman accused of murdering a Madison man in the fall of 2018.
In a phone conversation to News 3 Now, Dane County Sheriff Dave Mahoney indicated that Gadson’s bail goes against Free the 350’s goals of bailing out low level and non-violent criminals.
However, Williams says Gadson’s case is misunderstood.
“She was in a situation where she was had to defend herself against men that were attacking her and wouldn’t stop,” she said. “This was self-defense.”
Mahoney says Gadson’s charges remain first-degree homicide.
Williams says Free the 350 has raised close to $500,000 since protests began in June, and says the group is proud of its bail efforts, as well as successful advocacy to remove police from the Madison Metropolitan School District.
She says this week, their biggest efforts are to support women, and advocate for an increasing funding to sexual assault resources for women in Dane County.