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“We can do better.” Unity Walk for Change is a call to end gun violence


Local community leaders called for an end in gun violence during an event held on Madison’s south side Sunday afternoon.

Unity Walk for Change, organized by Mattie Reese and Felisha Anderson, brought more than 100 people to Penn Park to hear guest speakers advocate for change in the community. Then, those in attendance participated in a silent march around the park area, stopping for a moment of silence to commemorate those who were killed due to gun violence, including 11-year-old Anisa Scott, who was shot on Tuesday and taken off life support on Thursday.

Madison police have recorded 143 shots fired incidents in 2020 so far, an 88 percent increase from the first half of 2019. There were 44 shots fired incidents in July alone, a new record. Additionally, there have been at least 10 homicides in Madison thus far this year.

For Reese, a chef at Madison College, this event was an opportunity to inspire hope and change.

“I decided to put this together for several reasons,” she said. “First of all, it’s voting. So I wanted to inform my people we need to get out and vote, we need change. Another one was for violence, because there’s been a lot of violence in Wisconsin and we’re not really used to that so it’s really time for us to wake up and get things together. And another thing is that so we can unite as a whole. Not a black thing, not a white thing, just an us thing, and I think that as a community if we come together that we can make this work, we can make it happen, we can do better.”

Photo by Fatoumata Ceesay.

“Today we take the necessary steps to dismantle the violence in our community by uniting our voices as one,” said Anderson, executive director of DSS Community Center. “No longer will we stand aside and remain silent while our innocent lives are being lost. Enough is enough. Now is the time that we take control of the violence in our community.”

The event included speakers such as JustDane peer support specialist James Morgan, members of the Madison chapter of the Black Panther Party and multiple community members. Shari Carter, Madison Common Council President and District 14 Alder, was also present.

Photo by Fatoumata Ceesay.

“It’s going to take all of us,” Morgan said. “We’re talking about the violence, we’re talking about the self-genocide that we see going on in our communities and we have to figure out solutions, how are we going to do this? We have young Black boys, young Black males, young Black men who, just like everybody else, are suffering. They’re in pain. I’m not saying we do not hold one another accountable for our actions but we have to consider how we got here.”

Participant UW-Madison sophomore Tatiyana, who requested to use only her first name, came out in the name of unity.

“I came out because it’s a unity march and I think that there’s nothing more important in the Black community than unity,” she said. “We all need to be there for each other and we can disagree on things but at no time should we be fighting.”