A1 A1

Packers running back Aaron Jones rides a bike to NFL football training camp July 25, 2019.


Local
UPDATE: Protest led by man who said George Floyd's death changed his heart

JANESVILLE

A dozen people stood in Courthouse Park along Janesville’s Main Street on Monday and protested what happened to George Floyd, a Minneapolis man killed by a police officer May 25.

Among them was the organizer, Nathan Moon of Janesville, who said the video of Floyd’s death led him to a realization that he was wrong to hold racism in his heart.

Moon, 29, is a father and husband who works at the Dollar General distribution facility and who wears his Christianity for all to see.

Angela Major 

Nathan Moon delivers an anti-racism message during a demonstration in downtown Janesville.

He spoke passionately at the peaceful gathering, shouting at passing motorists, some of whom sounded their horns in support of signs the protesters held, including “No justice, no peace” and “I can’t breathe.”

Moon and another protester lay on the ground and chanted “I can’t breathe,” words uttered by Floyd before he died.

Eight people, some of them passersby, joined the protest when they saw the signs. One was Tresa Hewlett, a white woman who is the mother of a black man, Lavell Hewlett, who also joined the protest.

“It’s 2020, and this has got to stop,” Hewlett said of black people dying at the hands of police.

Emma Carter-Munns and her mother, Cassie Carter, were passing by when they saw the protest and joined.

Emma, interpreting for her mother, who is deaf, said, “She does support them, but the violence, no.”

Angela Major 

Cassie Carter signs ‘I can’t breathe’ in sign language while attending a protest with her 11-year-old daughter, Emma Carter-Munns, on Monday in downtown Janesville. Emma served as interpreter for her mother during the small demonstration.

Moon was adamantly opposed to looting and violence that have accompanied some protests around the country. He said he had not heard from Christian leaders on a national level about Floyd’s death and said they should speak out.

“You say you love the Prince of Peace, and yet where are you, Christians?” Moon yelled into his microphone.

One of the protesters left the scene, saying she became uncomfortable with Moon’s preaching and the fact that he stated he had been racist.

Moon said afterward that he harbored racist feelings since he was a small boy and was attacked by two black playmates in Georgia. He said he had black friends but thought of some other black people in racist terms.

“It’s been something I’ve been wrestling with for a very long time,” he said.

He said he found ways to dismiss previous incidents in which black people died under questionable circumstances at the hands of police. He interacted with white nationalists online because of feelings of being marginalized, even though deep down he felt that wasn’t right, he said.

“Then I saw this (video of Floyd’s death), and this was very clearly an act of murder. It hit me like I don’t think anything has hit me before.”

The video made him realize that he harbored racist feelings, he said.

Angela Major 

Nathan Moon, left, and another protester shout 'I can't breathe' as they lie on the grass Monday at Lower Courthouse Park in downtown Janesville. About a dozen people joined the protest to remember George Floyd, who died May 25 at the hands of Minneapolis police.

“I saw a man. A man. Not a black man. Not a criminal. A man. He died because of something deeply wrong with this country,” Moon said in a Facebook post.

Moon said the realization felt like a boulder being ripped out of his chest, “and I have not been the same since. … I said I call myself a Christian. I’ve been silent on this too long, and I am holding secret hatred and racism in my heart.”

Moon said he is deleting questionable posts from his Facebook page and apologizing to people he might have offended.

He said he came to his revelation only a few days ago, but he said he is committed to continuing on the right path, and he has forgiven the children who hurt him.

“I repent, and I need to make it right. I need to do good, moving forward, to my fellow man, just as Jesus would do,” he said.


Obituaries and death notices for June 2, 2020

John W. Campbell

Darlene Ann Carlson

Gerald Dorn

Don L. Gruden

Michael “Jake” Jackson

Donna M. McFarlin

Arthur “Bud” Millard

Barbara J. Mulloy

Kelley Nedham

Werner N. “Junior” Semling

Kent Vold

Lola A. Williams


Crime
top story
‘Crime,’ ‘murderous actions’: Police officials respond to George Floyd's killing

JANESVILLE

Years ago, a Janesville police lieutenant was reviewing a report after a May 2015 incident.

While dealing with a suspect, an officer had placed his knee near the suspect’s head and used “inappropriate comments,” said Janesville Police Chief Dave Moore. The officer moved his knee after the suspect was in handcuffs.

Moore pointed out this incident during an interview Monday because he said it was the only time in recent years that came to mind when Janesville police deemed a use-of-force incident unjustified.

The infraction wasn’t reported by a citizen or the suspect, who Moore said had “minor scrapes” and declined medical treatment.

It was the lieutenant who caught—and reported—the behavior, which led to a verbal and written warning.

“We talk about that in our ethical interventions. It’s ethically improper to not intercede (when another officer is acting improper),” Moore said Monday. “We don’t allow professional bystanders.”

Police accountability has been a major theme from activists and other members of the public outraged at the recent death of George Floyd, the black Minneapolis man who died after former officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

Chauvin, who is white, was fired, arrested and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter—consequences that are rare after police kill others while on the job.

Moore and other Rock County law enforcement officials spoke out publicly, coming out to various degrees against the actions Chauvin was videotaped doing.

“What we witnessed was not some type of questionable police activity,” Moore wrote in a letter posted to the department’s Facebook page Friday. “What we witnessed was a crime.”

Milton Police Chief Scott Marquardt wrote in a Saturday Facebook post, saying he condemned the “murderous actions” that took Floyd from his family and that his department demanded justice for the family.

Sheriff Troy Knudson during an interview did not go as far as to definitively say Chauvin’s actions on video were a crime. He wrote on the sheriff’s office Facebook page Saturday that, “I certainly share the concerns of so many and am eager to see a transparent, thorough, and just investigation.”

He also said the sheriff’s office, “does not have any form of neck restraint as part of our use-of-force program,” and similar to Moore he wrote that their policy calls for deputies to step in and stop “unreasonable force.”

Angela Major 

Protesters hold signs in Janesville on Sunday demanding justice for George Floyd.

Moore encouraged communities to ask their police leaders what they are doing to make sure what happened in Minneapolis won’t happen where they are.

In his Facebook post, Moore wrote about his department’s implicit bias training and de-escalation training. Knudson mentioned body cameras.

Moore said while use-of-force incidents remain relatively steady over recent years, it’s in part because there are few of them.

In his post, he wrote that 2019 saw 71,613 police activities that accounted for more than 100,000 citizen contacts, 13,000 arrests or citations and 54 reported incidents where force went beyond handcuffing.

“In our hiring process I do not seek officers that can run, shoot well or drive a car fast,” Moore wrote. “I search for persons of character and those that truly care about others.”

The public has some role in police accountability. Moore mentioned he reports to the city manager, city council and the police and fire commission.

Moore welcomed ideas community members have for his department. Knudson is an elected official, and he, too, said he hears from the public in several different ways.

Marquardt wrote that in the days after Floyd died, Milton police were dispatched to a call about a black man walking back and forth with a backpack. He said officers replied in the spirit of, “Seriously? That’s it?” and declined to respond to someone not doing anything wrong.

“Throughout the week, we also talked about when officers did respond (in other cases) but truly shouldn’t have, acknowledging the pain that was caused,” he wrote.

Even though Rock County isn’t particularly close to Minneapolis, Knudson wrote that the community needed a response from the sheriff’s office.

He said they need to keep improving community connections.

“We cannot be satisfied with the status quo,” he wrote.

Moore said one of the first things he did after watching the video last week was call members of the department’s African American Liaison Advisory Committee.

“All I could do was just call up and apologize,” Moore said. “Apologize for what all of us have to watch.”