How the Reaction to Tony Robinson’s Shooting Differs from Michael Brown

Another unarmed teen has been shot by police, and this time the scene of the crime is in Madison, Wisconsin. But while the death of 19 year old Tony Robinson is drawing many comparisons to that of the 2014 shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, the reactions of the press and the communities have been markedly different.

Like the officer in Brown’s shooting, white police officer Matt Kenny said he shot Robinson while being assaulted after responding to a police call. Robinson, who was biracial, was identified in the call as being a “male, black, light skinned” and jumping in and out of cars and with “no weapon.”

Unlike in Ferguson, where the body of Brown lay on the ground for hours, or in Cleveland where police did nothing to offer medical help to 12 year old Tamir Rice, reports claim that Kenny and fellow officers did try to offer CPR, though Robinson still died later at a local hospital. After the shooting, Robinson’s family made statements that although they did want to see a full and thorough investigation that they did not “endorse blanket anti-police sentiments,” according to the Huffington Post.

“We are not proponents of anti-police (attitudes). We don’t condone not trusting police. … We understand that law enforcement is necessary and mandatory and we need to change our mindset about the police,” said Turin Carter, Robinson’s uncle, in a news conference outside the house where Robinson was shot, say reports.

The communities in which the two incidents took place are largely different as well. Madison, the capital of Wisconsin and a college-based city, prides itself on being a bastian of progressive ideals. It also, like many other cities in the Midwest, is massively racially imbalanced and predominately white. But while there may not be the same racial undertones in the shooting of Robinson, there is a definite issue in the city of officer shootings, and it’s one the state was already seeking outside resources to address.

According to the Madison Cap Times, “Just a few days before an unarmed, 19-year-old black man was shot and killed by a Madison police officer, Wisconsin’s attorney general had asked lawmakers to fund more positions to investigate officer-involved deaths.” The news outlet reports that “Gov. Scott Walker last April signed into law a bill requiring outside agencies to investigate officer-involved shootings. The legislation was championed by Reps. Chris Taylor, D-Madison, and Gary Bies, R-Sister Bay, in response to three high-profile officer-involved deaths in the last decade. Wisconsin was the first state in the nation to pass such a law.”

While the community may not have the same racial makeup of that of Ferguson, that didn’t stop residents from coming out in the thousands to protest Robinson’s shooting. “Almost 2,000 students marched in Madison, Wisconsin on Monday to protest the fatal police shooting of an unarmed biracial teenager, while his family demanded justice and the police chief apologized,” Reuters announced, adding that the “around 2,000 mostly teenaged students, including some from Sun Prairie High School, Robinson’s alma mater, protested inside the rotunda of the Capitol amid a minimal police presence.”

For a city that prides itself on being progressive, intersectional and beyond traditional and systematic racism, the Robinson shooting, although still being investigative and uncovered, is offering an opportunity for the community to look closely about whether they are indeed acting out the values they claim they hold. “Nary a conservative exists on the city council or school board, and yet according to one study, African-Americans are eight times as likely as whites to be arrested in Dane County,” writes local columnist Christian Schneider.  “As I noted last week, 10% of black children in Madison public schools are proficient in reading. In 2011, the unemployment rate in Dane County was 25.2% for blacks compared with just 4.8% for whites, leading one magazine to ask whether Madison was the ‘most racist city in America.’”

Madison has a chance to show that “Black lives matter” is more than just a slogan. Now we will see if they take it and address the inequities in the way that progressives pride themselves on saying they will.

Photo credit: Thinkstock


Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus3 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Sarah Hill
Sarah Hill3 years ago

What do all these cases have in common? All these black men resisted arrest. If they had submitted to arrest, they could have sorted it all out later and they would all be alive now.

Ernest R.
Ernest R3 years ago

@ Danielle E. ". What is this american mentality to always protect evil-doing white men??? " Even more puzzling is their protection of evil doing black men. Reports of black criminals such as pimps, drug gangs and convenience store robbers, all of whose crimes are conducted with extreme cruelty often involving slavery, torture or rape as well as outright murder. When reported, race is usually not mentioned so as not to create prejudice. Have you noticed that in the period between two very highly publicized police shootings of blacks, there has been a virtual blackout of dozens of black shootings of blacks in the same areas ? Now that's racism.

Adrienne L.
Adrienne L3 years ago


Danielle Esau
Dani Elle3 years ago

Still no excuse for the killing of innocent black lives. What is this american mentality to always protect evil-doing white men???

Sue H.
Sue H3 years ago

I have to believe that there is almost always another way to deal with mentally disturbed people other than guns. Tasers????

Jonathan Harper
Jonathan Harper3 years ago


Nikolas K.
Nikolas K3 years ago

All life matters regardless of what your upbringing is. Nobody has any right to take it away from you. To think otherwise is to put yourself at the dregs of society.

heather g.
heather g3 years ago

No matter what you think or say, Black lives matter! Never forget what the world thinks of the USA and its high prisoner population and we know that's overwhelmingly black people....

Roberto MARINI
Roberto M3 years ago

Thank you for the interesting article and for posting!