Several hundred people wearing hoodies gathered at the Wisconsin Capitol Saturday to show their support for two young men, whose recent deaths highlight the flaws in “Shoot first, question later” legislation adopted in the last few years in several states. Both laws mirror ALEC model legislation backed by the NRA, and similar laws are now on the books in over 2 dozen states.
The laws in the two states differ; in Florida one can “Stand Your Ground” anywhere and in Wisconsin, the “Castle Doctrine” protects homeowners on their property. In the Bo Morrison case, the homeowner Adam Kind, was not charged by the Washington County District Attorney Mark Benford, who published an extensive 28 page report explaining that while the Castle Doctrine might apply, he declined to press charges, indicating that Kind acted in self defense.
The excellent lineup of speakers started with a statement issued by Rep. Mark Pocan, who has exposed ALEC and their model legislation tactics for years. Rep. Kelda Helen Roys spoke to the fact that no one in Wisconsin has ever been successfully prosecuted when they have acted in self-defense.
Matthew Rothschild, of The Progressive, continued,
“So let’s name what’s terribly wrong in America, and in Wisconsin, today. One obvious thing is racism. It has not gone away. We are not living in the mythical post-racial society. It’s with us like a virus that we just can’t kick, and it flares up in lethal forms. But it’s not just racism we’re dealing with here. There’s another afflicting this country. It’s a virus that hasn’t been here as long as slavery, but almost half as long. It’s called oligarchy. It’s called plutocracy. It’s rule by the rich and by the corporations and by the special interests.”
Will Williams of Veterans For Peace recalled his childhood during the 40’s in Mississippi, sadly noting that some things have not changed. Kaleem Caire, of the Urban League, talked about his young sons and noted his fears for their future in the current climate of racism in America.
Rally attendees marched around the Capitol square before returning for final remarks. Mahlon Mitchell, President of the Wisconsin Professional Firefighters Association and candidate for Lt. Governor in the upcoming recall election addressed the crowd. Rep. Tamara Grigsby, a WI legislator who has been an extremely outspoken critic of the Castle Doctrine legislation stated,“…and I knew that it was a part of a larger radical Republican agenda to make Wisconsin the OK corral, like so many other states. I knew these things, and I fought vehemently against it. Unfortunately, the numbers were not on my side and they weren’t on the side of what is right and what is just and now we have the Castle Doctrine, and my biggest fears have come to fruition.”
Kayla Morrison was encouraged by the show of support after the loss of her little brother Bo, “Today was amazing, I’m not going to lie, I was a little nervous to see the turnout, but I think that it was better than any of us expected…..we didn’t even know more than half of these people, just to know that these people came out today to support us and let us know that they are here for us, I just think is amazing.”
Ms. Morrison has started a petition at change.org to draw attention to the death of her brother and to call for the repeal of the Castle Doctrine. When asked about the response to the petition she replied, ”Petitions are a good start for fighting things, I think that a good example was the Recall Walker petition that got started in our home town, so after I saw how many people were supporting that and signing that, I realized that starting a petition might work in spreading the word and hopefully getting enough signatures. I’ve been checking the signatures daily, they show you the last ten signatures, and it’s just crazy to see how now maybe you’ll see two from Wisconsin. We have signatures from Australia, Turkey, Jordan… It’s amazing to see that the word is being spread… I didn’t realize until I started that petition how many people are there, really there to support us, and how many people actually find the story of Bo’s situation extremely tragic and how many people are trying to support us and our family knowing that we are grieving and how big a loss that this was for us.”
Watch Rep. Tamara Grigsby’s speech from the Hoodie Rally:
More images from the Hoodie Rally in Madison, Wisconsin:
Read about other rallies to remember Bo Morrison and Trayvon Martin here.