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Wis. Family Calls For Peaceful Protests After Police Kill Unarmed Black Man

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Angry demonstrations in the streets of Madison, Wis., continued three days after a white police officer shot and killed a biracial 19-year-old who was unarmed. Tony Robinson's father is black, and his mother is white. Yesterday, his family pleaded with protesters to tone down their anti-police rhetoric and wait for the results of an independent investigation. Gilman Halsted of Wisconsin Public Radio reports.

GILMAN HALSTED, BYLINE: Call and response chants protesters have been shouting include, who do we trust? Not the police. But standing in front of the small house in the interracial neighborhood where the shooting occurred, Robinson's uncle, Turin Carter, said chants like that won't help bring justice for his nephew.

TURIN CARTER: We understand that this was an individual act that the entire police department has to take the responsibility for. But we understand that cops are necessary. I shouldn't call them cops. Police officers, law enforcement is necessary and mandatory. And it's something that we need to change our mindset about the police.

HALSTED: Carter says his family does believe the shooting was unjustified, but it trusts state investigators to come to the same conclusion. Monday's protest continued to be angry and loud but without violence. Madison police chief Michael Koval acknowledges there's a trust gap.

MICHAEL KOVAL: We don't want to be a legacy of a department that shoots first and asks questions later.

HALSTED: And Koval, who was quick to apologize to the Robinson family, doesn't think the Madison shooting should be compared to what happened in Ferguson, Mo. He says his department was one of the first to train officers to recognize unconscious racial bias.

KOVAL: So that they're aware of those things. So that we can act as guardians not only to community but towards one another to ensure that those sort of racist outcomes don't occur.

HALSTED: But protesters chanting at last night's meeting of the Police and Fire Commission say Robinson's death shows that training hasn't worked.

(SOUNDBITE OF PROTEST)

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTER: What's his name?

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: Tony Robinson.

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTER: Who did they kill?

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: Tony Robinson.

HALSTED: Brandi Grayson heads the Young, Gifted and Black Coalition that's been leading the demonstrations over Robinson's death. She says while officer Matt Kenney is a good person, she thinks racism played a role in this tragedy.

BRANDI GRAYSON: The issue is not that he's a good guy. The issue is that we are conditioned to believe and think that black men and black boys' and black women and black girls' lives are not worth it.

HALSTED: Grayson promises to lead more marches in the coming days, as the Robinson family continues to call for any protest to remain peaceful. For NPR News, I'm Gilman Halsted in Madison. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.