MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Hundreds of people are expected to converge on a high school field house in Wisconsin’s capital city on Saturday to mourn the death of a 19-year-old biracial man who was fatally shot last weekend by a white police officer.
Tony Robinson, whose mother is white and father black, died March 6 after what police said was a confrontation in which he assaulted the officer. A preliminary autopsy showed Robinson was shot in his head, torso and right arm. The autopsy did not say if he was facing or turned away from the officer, who was identified as Matt Kenny.
Robinson’s death was the latest in a string of shootings by police nationwide that have heightened racial tensions. Some protests turned violent in Ferguson, Missouri after an unarmed black man was fatally shot last August, and this week two policemen were injured from gunfire during a demonstration in front of the Ferguson Police Department.
Protests have been peaceful in Madison, where blacks make up only about 7 percent of the 240,000 population. The shooting has highlighted local concerns, prompting open letters from nearly 90 religious leaders and many local politicians calling for action to bridge racial inequality.
Demonstrators on Wednesday marched to the home of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a likely Republican presidential candidate, and posted on the gate a list of demands including an end to what they say is unequal policing of poor, black neighborhoods and calling for an increase in public school funding. Walker was not there at the time.
There were no signs of protest other than a few people wearing “Black Lives Matter” t-shirts as mourners began to gather Saturday afternoon for the visitation and funeral of Robinson. In addition to statements from friends and the reading of Robinson’s obituary, his aunt is expected to read a poem, according to a program for the funeral.
Madison police have been more conciliatory than their counterparts in Ferguson since the shooting. Police Chief Mike Koval rushed to the home of Robinson’s family on the night of the killing and prayed with the man’s grandmother in the driveway. He has emphasized the right of protesters to march peacefully.
Under a new Wisconsin law that requires an outside agency to look into fatal police shootings, a state agency has stepped in to investigate.