Pain Strikes Madison

This last Friday night Tony Robinson, a teenager, was killed in a confrontation with a police officer. There are many stories swirling about the incident and we will have to wait for an investigation to understand the circumstances of the death. In the meantime, our city has been turned upside down with fear, anger, and grief. There are many people who need to be held in our prayers: the family of Tony Robinson, the family of Matt Kenny, the Madison Police Department and their families, neighbors of the Robinsons and the community in general. I shared the following statement in worship on Sunday:

We would not be honoring the roots of social justice in this church if we didn’t take a moment to address the shooting of an unarmed young black man in our community that took place on Friday night. August 31st of last year I preached about using what was happening in Ferguson, MO to help us address our own issues here in Madison. Let me be clear, we do not have enough facts about this incident to make blanket statements, but I don’t want us to lose sight of the larger issues we face as a community. Yesterday morning I was in a room with clergy and concerned citizens, both black and white, to talk about how we move forward, and what leadership roles we take in healing. It is important that you hear the breadth of what was held in that room.

*I sat with a white clergy woman who said her son told her, “if it had been me, this wouldn’t have happened.”

*I sat with a black woman, who wanted to know how to explain this incident to her children.

*I sat with a clergy person who was called to the jail by two of their members who were witnesses, but was not allowed to meet with them.

*I sat with a clergy person who took a phone call out of the room and returned to tell us that one of their members was closely related to the officer involved. 

There was much emotion held in the room. And it was held with integrity. I encourage us to not step back, but be willing to honor all of these emotions of pain and grief in the community. We should not forget about the Robinson family, but it is important to focus on the larger issues that we need to address in Madison. It is yet to be seen whether this particular issue was directly related to racism or systemic injustices, but we have facts to prove that both racism and systemic injustices exist here in Madison, and must not be ignored.

~ Eldonna Hazen


“But we can perhaps remember, if only for a time, that those who live with us are our brothers (and sisters), that they share with us the same short moment of life; that they seek, as do we, nothing but the chance to live out their lives in purpose and in happiness, winning what satisfaction and fulfillment they can. Surely, this bond of common faith, this bond of common goal, can begin to teach us something. Surely, we can learn, at least, to look at those around us as fellow men (and women), and surely we can begin to work a little harder to bind up the wounds among us and to become in our own hearts brothers (and sisters) and countrymen (people) once again.” ~ Robert F. Kennedy


Posted on March 10, 2015 at 10:18 am in Featured Content.

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