Protesters demand release of jailed activists

MADISON (WKOW) -- Demonstrators marched through Madison's west side Wednesday night to protest in support of Black lives and to specifically call for the release of jailed activists, like Marquon Clark.

Clark -- who goes by Sire -- was arrested Tuesday night on a probation hold. Madison Police say he's alsoa person of interest in the firebombing of the City-County Building on June 23.

After a short rally in Rennebohm Park Wednesday night, a group of well over 100 people organized by the Party for Socialism and Liberation started marching through neighborhoods -- including going through the Hilldale Mall parking lot and down Midvale Boulevard.

Through everything, the protest was peaceful, with the group members chanting together and having a good time.

Those chants were a clear message, however, that leaders in Madison -- specifically the police and justice system -- are failing the Black community, and these protesters want their fellow protesters behind bars to be released immediately.

"Whenever any group is out there, (Clark)'s out there talking and letting them know what's going on," said Liya, an organizer of the protest, who's very close to Clark. "I feel like the police didn't like that, so they took him. They grabbed him."

Sawyer Johnson also helped organize the protest, leading the rally before the march and many of the chants through the streets.

"It's not a coincidence that over a span of a couple days, they've picked up four of the key Black revolutionary activists in Madison who are organizing Black Lives Matter protests," Johnson said. "That's absolutely not a coincidence."

Acting Police Chief Vic Wahl pushed back on that criticism in an interview with 27 News earlier in the day.

"Other examples of arrests that we have made have all had specific ties to criminal behavior that has occurred, usually significant criminal behavior," he said. "Anyone who has followed or monitored us, we've really bent over backwards for the rights of protesters to express their First Amendment Rights."

Wednesday's protest continued through neighborhoods until arriving at the home of Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne, one of the community leaders protesters were critical of in their chants.

When they got to his home, they chanted for him to come out, sitting on his lawn for the better part of an hour.

Organizers say Wednesday's protest came together specifically because of Clark, but the message was much bigger -- demanding not only the release of Clark,Devonere Johnsonand more, but continuing to push the message that Black lives do matter and that police need to change -- a message we've heard for more than a month now in Madison and around the world.

More at WKOW 27 News

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