The hundreds of people protesting the shooting of an unarmed biracial teen by a white police officer in Madison, Wisconsin, on Wednesday were met by a separate group of people showing support for police. The pro-police rally drew about 250 people, who gathered at the state Capitol building, some of them wearing T-shirts and holding signs that read “We stand with the Madison Police Department,” Fox News reported. In Madison, the fatal shooting of Tony Robinson has quickly drawn comparisons to the shooting of unarmed black teen Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, last August.
Following several recent shootings, the families and supporters of police officers have publicly rallied around local law enforcement agencies to counter other demonstrations that they say are anti-police and endanger officers' lives. After Brown’s shooting by white former Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, supporters rallied around Wilson and the officers deployed to control large, sometimes violent protests in Ferguson. Early Thursday morning, two St. Louis County police officers were shot during protests following the announced resignation of Ferguson's police chief.
Several news reports described both protest groups in Madison as peaceful, although there was some tension. At the end of the pro-police rally, a female onlooker began chanting "Tony Robinson!" with her fist raised in the air, and four more onlookers joined the chant, according to Fox News. Some police supporters ignored the chants. But as the five demonstrators continued yelling Robinson’s name, the police supporters began singing the national anthem.
Robinson, the 19-year-old who was killed by white Madison police officer Matt Kenny last Friday evening, had been a suspect in an assault. Kenny responded to a call that Robinson, who had a history of mental health treatment, was jumping in and out of traffic. When the officer encountered Robinson in a Madison apartment, the teen allegedly struck the officer before the fatal shots were fired.