Some Wisconsin protesters arrested amid demand for role in probes

By Mary Reardon
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Craig Spaulding speaks to the crowd before marching after a prosecutor said that a police officer will not face charges in the fatal shooting of an unarmed 19-year-old biracial man, in Madison

Craig Spaulding speaks to the crowd before marching after a prosecutor said that a police officer will not face charges in the fatal shooting of an unarmed 19-year-old biracial man, in Madison, Wisconsin May 12, 2015. REUTERS/Ben Brewer

By Mary Reardon

MADISON, Wis. (Reuters) - Hundreds of people protested Wednesday in Wisconsin's capital and more than two dozen were arrested for blocking a road a day after a prosecutor ruled that a Madison police officer's fatal shooting of an unarmed biracial teenager was justified.

Relatives of Tony Robinson had expressed disappointment at Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne's decision on Tuesday that Madison officer Matt Kenny, who is white, used justified lethal force in the March 6 shooting.

Demonstrators on Wednesday marched from the house where Robinson was shot to a courthouse and a jail where most of those arrested refused repeated requests to clear a street that was blocked for several hours.

Nearly all those arrested were being cited for obstructing the roadway and then released, Madison Police spokesman Joel DeSpain said, describing their acts as peaceful civil disobedience.

Robinson's shooting was one of several officer-involved deaths that have led to increased scrutiny of police use of force in the United States, particularly against young black men.

Brandi Grayson, co-founder of the Young Gifted and Black Coalition that organized the protest, said the group wanted community control over the hiring and firing of officers and a U.N. probe into racial disparities in Dane County and Wisconsin.

"We don't have time-set goals. We understand the struggle for black liberation will be generational," Grayson said.

Lakaya Horton, 13, of Madison, got permission to go to the protest with her mother and a friend instead of school.

"No matter who you are, you should be charged for killing a person," Horton said, adding: "He should at least get a little bit of time."

Ozanne said Kenny was responding to multiple emergency calls reporting that a man had battered someone and was dodging traffic in the street. Robinson's friends called 911 to say they were afraid of him because he was acting violently and was on drugs.

Robinson had struck the 12-year police veteran in the head and Kenny shot Robinson seven times, Ozanne said. Robinson had psilocybin mushrooms, marijuana and the psychoactive drug Xanax in his system, he said.

There were large but orderly demonstrations in Madison after Robinson's shooting. The city of 240,000 people is nearly four-fifths white and 7 percent African-American, according to U.S. Census figures.

Attorney Jon Loevy, who represents Robinson's family, said on Tuesday the decision left many unanswered questions.

Kenny is on paid administrative leave pending completion of a department internal investigation.

(Additional reporting by Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee; Writing by David Bailey; Editing by Doina Chiacu, Peter Cooney and Eric Walsh)