MADISON, Wisc. – Students and community members staged a rally and march here April 27 against racial profiling. Kim Lampereur, a Young Communist League member and one of the organizers of the demonstration, hailed the event as “the first step toward building a broad coalition to end racial profiling and defend civil rights.”

The demonstration, she said, “brought together student and community activists in a unique way.” Lampereur said it brought together groups that have been working on the issue of racial profiling for a long time, like the Asian Freedom Project, with others who are just starting to get involved.

Those assembled called for legislation banning the widespread use of racial profiling and for other reforms such as the repeal of the USA PATRIOT Act, amnesty for undocumented immigrants and full respect for the human and civil rights of prisoners.

After assembling in Madison’s Brittingham Park, 100 people marched in the rain to the capitol. On the capitol steps, more demonstrators appeared, finally reaching a total of some 400, and chanting, “It can rain, it can pour, we know what we’re fighting for.”

Members of the University of Wisconsin chapter of MEChA performed a skit dramatizing the injustice of humiliating police encounters in which innocent Latinos are stopped and interrogated without cause. They concluded with a reference to Rene Campos, a Latino man who died here in the custody of local law enforcement.

After moving into the capitol rotunda, the protesters heard from a series of ten speakers. Robert Miranda drew attention to a recent report that noted Wisconsin as having the worst Black-white incarceration rate disparity in the nation. In Dane County, where Madison is located, Blacks are as much as 200 times more likely to be incarcerated for drug offenses.

Jesse Kiley gave a spoken-word performance contrasting his idea of infinity with the “infinite justice” label given to George Bush’s war in Afghanistan. Other speakers, such as the Asian Freedom Project’s Kabzuag Vaj, gave personal accounts of encounters with racism.

Jennifer Epps, diversity coordinator for the Associated Students of Madison, which cosponsored the event along with nearly 40 other groups, said she agreed with Lampereur that the most impressive feature of the protest was the range of groups involved. “What this protest demonstrated is that this is an issue that affects people of all races.”

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Fred Gaboury
Fred Gaboury

Fred Gaboury was a member of the Editorial Board of the print edition of  People’s Weekly World/Nuestro Mundo and wrote frequently on economic, labor and political issues. Gaboury died in 2004. Here is a small selection of Fred’s significant writings: Eight days in May Birmingham and the struggle for civil rights; Remembering the Rev. James Orange; Memphis 1968: We remember; June 19, 1953: The murder of the Rosenbergs; World Bank and International Monetary Fund strangle economies of Third World countries