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Madison police shooting forces liberal city to look at race gap

(Agencies) Updated: 2015-03-12 14:55

Madison police shooting forces liberal city to look at race gap

Protestors raise their fists in solidarity at Worthington Park before marching to the Wisconsin Department of Corrections in Madison March 11, 2015. About 1,500 people, some banging plastic pails or blowing whistles, marched on Wednesday to protest the fatal police shooting last week of 19-year-old Tony Robinson, an unarmed biracial young man. [Photo/Agencies]

MADISON, Wis. - The fatal police shooting of an unarmed biracial teen in Madison, Wisconsin, has cast a light on the divide between the liberal whites that dominate the university city and its black residents, who said this week they feel marginalized.

Since the death on Friday evening of 19-year-old Tony Robinson, Madison has seen days of protests and a measured response by the city's police department. However, the demonstrations still evoked memories of the violent clashes that erupted in Ferguson, Missouri, 350 miles (563 kilometers) to the south following the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in August.

Robinson was shot after Officer Matt Kenny responded to calls about a man dodging cars in traffic who had allegedly battered another person, according to police officials. They said Kenny fired after Robinson attacked him.

Madison, a city of 243,000, is perennially near the top of media rankings of the best places to live in the United States. But residents and Robinson's family said his shooting by a veteran police officer should force the city, with a 7 percent African American population, to look past the veneer of bike paths and music clubs to address the underlying issues of racism and poverty.

Meaca Moore, 22, a sociology student who came from Columbus, Ohio, to study at the University of Wisconsin-Madison said the city's black residents deal with social isolation on a daily basis.

"It feels like you're a walking circus, a freak show," said Moore, one of several dozen residents at a Madison Police and Fire Commission meeting on Monday evening.

Many residents at the crowded meeting in Madison City Hall complained of persistent racism despite state and county task forces to deal with the issue.

"Madison is the worst place a black person can live," Moore said in an interview.

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