Dane County leaders condemn firebombing of City County Building

“The City County building was set on fire by anarchists."
Published: Jun. 24, 2020 at 12:39 PM CDT
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Dane County Leaders sent a strong message Wednesday afternoon: violence and destruction will not be tolerated.

“The City County Building was set on fire by anarchists,” said Dane Co. Sheriff Dave Mahoney, referring to someone throwing a Molotov cocktail into the building Tuesday night.

Mahoney said the sheriff’s department was prepared to assist Madison Police Wednesday night if violence broke out again.

“This week is clear evidence that our downtown Madison is not safe,” he said.

Mahoney added that the fire at the City County Building put everyone in danger, forcing the 911 dispatch center to evacuate and threatening inmates in the Dane County Jail.

Security cameras at the Dane County Jail were also taken down and painted over, and people tried to get into the booking entrance of the jail.

Mahoney also called on both Freedom, Inc. and Urban Triage to publicly denounce the violence. Both groups advocate ending injustice against the Black community and have been involved in organizing peaceful protests.

“It is their silence and failure to denounce and stand against these extreme acts of violence which endanger the lives of the very people they advocate for and the children of families impacted by these issues,” he said.

Mahoney also expressed support for the message behind nonviolent protests. He said he wants to work with community groups to end racism and police bias.

“We must better train our law enforcement. We must hold each other in this profession accountable for our actions,” he insisted.

Dane Co. Executive Joe Parisi also spoke out against the destruction Tuesday night.

“Things have gone too far.”

That was Parisi’s message in response to the firebombing of the City County Building late Tuesday night. He also shared an image that appeared to show the moment right before a Molotov cocktail was hurtled into the building.

“What happened overnight in the heart of the City I’ve grown up and spent my entire life in is absolutely heartbreaking,” he said in a statement. “The misguided actions of a few jeopardized people’s safety and well-being.”

The bottle sparked a fire near boxes of paper and Dane Co. Sheriff’s deputies got the flames under control, Parisi explained. However, he pointed out that the fire was not far from where 911 dispatchers work and they needed to be evacuated to the county’s backup center.

“When someone throws a Molotov cocktail into a building that’s occupied, that’s certainly a recipe for potential disaster,” Parisi said Wednesday afternoon.

He also contrasted an oft-repeated concern of the recent protests with the fact that a fire at the CCB puts in jeopardy dozens of people under 18 who are being held in the juvenile corrections center as well as the 180 inmates of the Dane County jail, saying “[s]etting fire to the building that houses inmates is not advocating for their well-being.”

“There are 180 inmates in that building and when someone tries to burn that down, that’s pretty serious,” he said.

In his statement, Parisi described the violence against African Americans nationwide as “deplorable,” but stated that starting fires when people are inside “will not get us to that place.” He said the community needs to have a constructive dialogue.

“People need to step back and take a breath and assess where we want to go. Where do we want to be as a community and how do we constructively get there? Because starting buildings on fire is not going to get us any place,” Parisi said.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives is offering a reward of up to $5,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the suspect in the firebombing of the City County Building.

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