On July 8th, a conservative political activist filed a recall petition against Mayor Rhodes-Conway. The petition enumerates a spectacular list of grievances, primarily that Rhodes-Conway was substantially responsible for “endangering the public” by obstructing a strong police response to Black Lives Matter protests.
Rhodes-Conway’s response to the demands of Black Lives Matter protests has been more concerned with protecting property and alleviating white anxiety in the face of Black outrage than it has been with racial and social justice. Rhodes-Conway has encouraged the Madison Police Department — a department with a well-documented history of disproportionate violence against Black people — to violently repress protestors who demand racial justice. Rhodes-Conway and the municipal government of Madison play a decisive role in perpetuating systemic racism and state violence against Black, Indigenous, and Persons of Color in Madison. So long as Rhodes-Conway and the city government are aligned with powers that have economic and social interests in maintaining racial domination, there will be no racial justice in our community.
This recall campaign is not the answer to those problems; it is a reactionary effort grounded in white supremacy. The recall’s organizers demand that existing racist power structures be maintained and even extended farther in our communities, while campaign supporters trade in casual sexist and homophobic commentary against Rhodes-Conway, the city’s first openly lesbian mayor. The campaign preys on real grievances about Rhodes-Conway’s unpopular governing in Madison, but draws the wrongful conclusion that the only response must be to double down on the same racist policies and practices that brought us to this point of crisis to begin with.
Madison-Area DSA condemns this campaign to recall Mayor Rhodes-Conway and recommends not signing the petition even as we remain opposed to the Mayor’s absolute failure to advance any kind of racial or social justice in this city. We continue to stand in solidarity with Black activists and organizations leading the charge to dismantle white supremacy in all its forms.