Tag Archives: Matt Kenny

Wisconsin’s year: Walker flames out, Ryan moves up, and more

A failed presidential bid, a new job for Rep. Paul Ryan and a capital city on edge were some of the most notable stories in Wisconsin in 2015. A look back at those and others:

SCOTT WALKER: The Republican governor spent the first half of the year hop-scotching across the country laying the foundation for his presidential run, visiting early primary states and courting Republican donors. He officially jumped into the race in July but floundered in a crowded field that included real estate mogul Donald Trump. Less than three months later, with poor poll numbers and the prospect of dwindling donor support, he was out.

PAUL RYAN: Wisconsin’s other national political figure found himself under pressure to take over as House speaker after John Boehner abruptly announced plans to quit the job. Ryan appeared to want nothing to do with the job before relenting and being elected in October.

MADISON UNREST: The state’s capital city was on edge for weeks after Tony Robinson, a 19-year-old biracial man, died in a confrontation with a white police officer in his apartment building in March. Robinson’s death sparked waves of street protests, but District Attorney Ismael Ozanne ultimately decided that no charges were warranted against Officer Matt Kenny.

WISCONSIN DRIVERS: The state’s drivers got the green light to hit the gas _ on some roads, anyway —J after Walker signed a bill giving state transportation officials the power to bump the speed limit from 65 mph to 70 in some places.

JOHN DOE INVESTIGATION: For nearly three years Walker endured ugly headlines as the state Government Accountability Board and Milwaukee prosecutors pursued a John Doe investigation _ a procedure similar to a grand jury proceeding where information is tightly controlled _ into whether his 2012 recall campaign illegally coordinated with outside conservative groups on issue ads. The state Supreme Court finally halted the probe in July, ruling such coordination is legal. Three months later, Walker signed a bill prohibiting prosecutors from using the John Doe against politicians.

YOUTH PRISON INVESTIGATION: The state Department of Justice was asked late in the year to examine allegations of misconduct at the facilities that house youth prisoners in Irma. Allegations at Copper Lake/Lincoln Hills School include sexual assaults, physical confrontations and child neglect. A top corrections official and the Copper Lake/Lincoln Hills superintendent were relieved of their duties.

MILWAUKEE ARCHDIOCESE BANKRUPTCY: A federal bankruptcy judge approved a reorganization plan for Milwaukee’s Roman Catholic archdiocese in November that called for distributing $21 million to hundreds of clergy sex abuse victims. The plan splits most of the money among 355 people. Another group of 104 people will get about $2,000 each. Archbishop Jerome Listecki apologized to victims in court shortly before Judge Susan Kelley approved the plan, saying he believes the archdiocese has turned a corner.

TOMAH VA MEDICAL CENTER: Wisconsin Veterans Affairs Medical Center Chief of Staff David Houlihan was put on leave in January while the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs investigated allegations of overprescribing narcotic pain medications and retaliatory behavior at the Tomah facility. In August the VA’s inspector general said deficiencies in care led to the death of 35-year-old Marine Corps veteran Jason Simcakoski in 2014. Houlihan was fired in October, a month after the center’s director, Mario DeSanctis, was dismissed.

UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN SYSTEM: A tough year for the UW system included a $250 million budget cut and a tuition freeze. State lawmakers also removed tenure protections for UW professors from state law, though system regents were considering restoration of some protections in a process expected to last into the spring.

LABOR UNIONS: Not a good year here, either, as Walker signed a bill making Wisconsin a right-to-work state. That means workers can’t be required to join a union or pay union dues, a change likely to erode membership. The state AFL-CIO is suing, arguing the law is unconstitutional.

MILWAUKEE BUCKS: The NBA team is getting a shiny new $500 million arena, with taxpayers committed to half that under a bill signed by Walker. The new building may open for the 2018-19 season.

SUPREME COURT UPHEAVAL: Longtime Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson was bounced from that post by the court’s conservative majority after voters approved an amendment letting the justices pick their chief rather than going by seniority. Justice Pat Roggensack was made the new chief. Separately, 77-year-old Justice Patrick Crooks died in his chambers in September, giving Walker an opening to appoint conservative-backed Rebecca Bradley to finish his term. She’ll have the advantage of incumbency in the spring election for a full 10-year term.

MARTY BEIL: The often brusque leader of the Wisconsin state employee labor union died in October at age 68. Beil was the face of the union for years and was at the center of the losing fight against Walker’s signature public union restrictions.

RUSS FEINGOLD’S RETURN: After losing the U.S. Senate seat he’d held for 18 years to Republican Ron Johnson in 2010, the Democrat announced in May that he would run against Johnson in 2016.

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ACLU of Wisconsin urges change for Madison Police Department

The American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin on June 3 expressed concern that violence by the Madison Police Department will continue without reform.

The ACLU was responding to an announcement from the MPD that Officer Matt Kenny was exonerated following an internal investigation into the fatal shooting of an unarmed man on March 6.

Kenny fatally shot Tony Robinson in an apartment building. Robinson’s death inspired a series of protests, many of them organized by Young, Gifted and Black coalition and repeated demands for change in the department and the community.

Earlier this spring, the Dane County prosecutor’s office announced it would not pursue charges against Kenny in connection with the death of Robinson, who was biracial.

ACLU of Wisconsin executive director Chris Ahmuty said on June 3, “The ACLU of Wisconsin believes that either the Madison Police Department’s policies or its internal investigations are deficient.”

Ahmuty cited a State Journal story that said the MPD’s standard operating procedure for officer-involved shootings states “detailed interviews should be delayed to allow the involved officer time to overcome the initial stress of the incident.”

Ahmuty said, “This procedure should call into question the integrity and accuracy of the internal investigation into Officer Kenny’s conduct. The internal investigation needs to be investigated to determine whether or not it is credible.”

The ACLU stated concern for recurring violence unless the MPD “finds better ways to handle critical incidents.”

Ahmuty said, “Mr. Robinson is the latest in a series of individuals killed by Madison police. Since the killing of Paul Heenan on Nov. 9, 2012, there have been five more killings, including Mr. Robinson. The ACLU of Wisconsin believes that too many killings have taken place, whether or not police officers violated the law or departmental policy.”

Young, Gifted and Black Coalition: | Reflect on Tuesday, walk out on Black Out Wednesday

The Young, Gifted and Black Coalition issued the following statement, in anticipation of an announcement in the investigation into Tony Robinson’s death:

Out of respect for Tony Robinson’s family, Young Gifted and Black will not hold an action on May 12 after District Attorney Ismael Ozanne makes his announcement regarding whether officer Matt Kenny will be charged with the death of 19-year-old black teenager Tony Robinson. We call community members to use May 12 to remember Tony and reflect on the complex ways state violence impacts Black lives. 

We will resume our actions on Black Out Wednesday, the first day of action in Black Spring, a national movement for Black Liberation. Black Spring recognizes the death of Tony as connected to the killings of Freddie Gray, Michael Brown, Rekia Boyd, Mya Hall, Tamir Rice, and Aiyana Jones. It is a movement that recognizes the poverty, mass incarceration, evacuated education systems and physical and mental health struggles that Black people face all as injuries incurred in the war against Black people across in America. The long winter is over. It is time to grow and move in to spring, demonstrating resistance and resilience against the assault on Black people in Madison and across the country. 

We ask workers, students, families, and community members who share our vision to stand up for Black lives as a part of this Black Spring movement, and Walk Out on Black Out Wednesday. More information on the events of Black Out Wednesday will be released.

Dane County DA to announce decision in shooting by policeman

A Dane County prosecutor said he will announce on May 12 whether charges will be filed against a white police officer who fatally shot an unarmed 19-year-old biracial man in Madison.

Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne had promised to give the public advance notice of the announcement in the case of Madison Officer Matt Kenny, who shot 19-year-old Tony Robinson in an apartment on March 6. Ozanne issued a brief statement on the weekend saying he would make his findings public on May 12.

Police have said Kenny was responding to reports that Robinson had assaulted two people and was running in traffic. Investigators said Robinson attacked Kenny but other details haven’t been released.

Racial tension between police and minorities has been running high in several U.S. cities, most recently in Baltimore, where riots erupted after the funeral for Freddie Gray, a black man who suffered a fatal spinal injury while in police custody. Other high-profile cases of officers killing unarmed black residents include the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri; Eric Garner in New York City; Walter Scott in North Charleston, South Carolina, and Dontre Hamilton in Milwaukee.

Six officers involved in Gray’s death have been charged, as has the officer who killed Scott. Grand juries declined to charge the officers involved in Brown’s and Garner’s deaths.

The Wisconsin Department of Justice investigated Robinson’s death under a state law that requires an outside agency to lead probes into officer-involved shootings. Ozanne said he received the last investigative reports from the agency on April 13 and has been mulling a decision since then.

The shooting has sparked multiple street protests led by the Young, Gifted and Black Coalition. The protests have been peaceful, although demonstrators have demanded Kenny be fired and charged with homicide. They also have said they don’t trust Ozanne, saying he’s part of a corrupt criminal justice system that targets blacks.

Police arrested at least four protesters in April after they blocked one of Madison’s main thoroughfares for eight hours.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who is expected to run for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, was in Israel on May 10. Asked if Walker plans to cut the trip short to be in Wisconsin when the decision is announced, Jocelyn Webster, a spokeswoman for Walker’s office, said in an email: “There have been peaceful demonstrations in the past and we expect that to be the case in the future. As always, Governor Walker is in regular contact with executive staff, regardless of his location.” 

Young, Gifted and Black statement issued …

The following statement was issued by the Young, Gifted and Black Coalition:

Out of respect for Tony Robinson’s family, Young Gifted and Black will not hold an action tomorrow (May 12) after District Attorney Ismael Ozanne makes his announcement regarding whether officer Matt Kenny will be charged with the death of 19-year-old black teenager Tony Robinson. We call community members to use Tuesday to remember Tony and reflect on the complex ways state violence impacts Black lives. 

We will resume our actions on Black Out Wednesday, the first day of action in Black Spring, a national movement for Black Liberation. Black Spring recognizes the death of Tony as connected to the killings of Freddie Gray, Michael Brown, Rekia Boyd, Mya Hall, Tamir Rice, and Aiyana Jones. It is a movement that recognizes the poverty, mass incarceration, evacuated education systems, and physical and mental health struggles that Black people face all as injuries incurred in the war against Black people across in America. The long winter is over. It is time to grow and move in to spring, demonstrating resistance and resilience against the assault on Black people in Madison and across the country. 

We ask workers, students, families, and community members who share our vision to stand up for Black lives as a part of this Black Spring movement, and Walk Out on Black Out Wednesday. More information on the events of Black Out Wednesday will be released. 

Madison police object to painting titled ‘Don’t Shoot’ on display at library

Police advocacy groups in Wisconsin objected to a painting displayed at the Madison Public Library on May 1 that shows an African-American boy pointing a toy gun at three riot police officers who have their weapons aimed at the child, calling it inflammatory and biased.

Artist Mike Lroy said the piece — acrylic and spray paint on canvas, entitled “Don’t Shoot” — is meant to stir emotion and provoke reflection.

The criticism comes as demonstrations endure nationwide to protest the killings of black suspects by white police officers, most recently the death of Freddie Gray while in Baltimore police custody. In March, a white police officer shot and killed an unarmed biracial man in Madison, sparking demonstrations.

The Wisconsin Professional Police Association and the Madison Professional Police Officers Association issued a joint statement saying they are “deeply troubled” by the artwork.

The “storm trooper portrayal of officers who appear to threaten a small child only serves to advance patently negative law enforcement stereotypes,” the groups said.

Lroy defended his art.

“Art is a positive outlet for expression, emotion and activism,” Lroy said in a description posted next to the painting, adding that his aim is “to empower black individuals who are feeling angry, forgotten, and demonized by the mainstream narrative.”

The organizations said to demand that it be removed would not be an appropriate response to free speech, but that they wanted to exercise their own right to be heard.

“This is a sensitive time in our community,” said WPPA executive director Jim Palmer, calling the display “inflammatory, negative, stereotypical and a slap in the face.”

Madison Public Library director Greg Mickells said the piece is displayed in partnership with 100 State, an entrepreneur incubator organization that supported three artists in residence.

“Some of the work will reflect a wide range of views, expressions and interests and may be unorthodox or controversial. The library’s display of these items doesn’t constitute endorsements,” Mickells said.

Mickells said library staff knew the artwork would have an impact and that they hoped it would provoke dialogue. He said he would invite the police groups to publish their own statement which could be displayed next to the piece. Palmer said he would take him up on that offer.

Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne is weighing whether to file criminal charges against city of Madison police officer Matt Kenny, who shot and killed 19-year-old Tony Robinson. Kenny was responding to calls that Robinson had assaulted two people and was running in traffic. Police said Robinson attacked Kenny inside an apartment house.