MADISON, Wis. - Hundreds of people protesting the shooting of an unarmed biracial man by a white police officer linked arms and blocked traffic for nearly an hour Wednesday, but otherwise maintained the peaceful demonstrations called for by the man's family.
"My son was never a violent man, and I don't want to see violence in his name," Andrea Irwin, Tony Robinson's mother, said to marchers before they started on a route that included a stop at the state Department of Corrections headquarters to protest black incarceration rates.
As they reached those offices, protesters blocked three lanes and an entrance ramp to a nearby highway. They chanted, "The whole damn system is guilty as hell!" and demanded the state put less money into prisons. They then marched to the gates of the governor's mansion, with police estimating their number at 800 to 1,000.
The protesters tied a banner across the gates that read "black lives matter" and also posted a list of demands.
Meanwhile, a separate rally to show support for police drew hundreds of people to a law enforcement memorial at the Capitol. Some wore shirts that said "We stand with the Madison Police Department," and they observed a moment of silence for officers killed in the line of duty.
Ron Torrisi of Madison held an American flag at the event.
"People think our police department is losing credibility, and I think it's important for us just to be there to support them," he said. But Torrisi said he was optimistic that Madison would not see the violence that followed a similar shooting last year in Ferguson, Mo.
Lori Schroedl, the wife of a Madison police officer, said she came to the rally because "everybody's lives matter."
"Until all the investigation is out, the final story will never be told," she said. "You have to wait for the investigation."
Near the end of the pro-police rally, a woman looking on began chanting "Tony Robinson!" with her fist in the air and was soon joined by four others. Some supporters of the police turned to face them, but most in the crowd either did not hear them or ignored the chants. As the five continued yelling, the police backers began singing the national anthem.