Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne is highlighting his identity as a Black man and his family’s roots in the Civil Rights Movement after protesters came to his house for the second time in a month Saturday, this time demanding that charges be dropped against two Black men and calling Ozanne a racist.
Ozanne said Sunday that scores of protesters with speakers, generators and a bullhorn showed up around 7:30 p.m. Saturday and stayed for about six hours blasting music, shouting profanity, chanting slogans, and calling him and even his family a racist — all in the name of pressuring Ozanne to drop charges against Kelsey Nelson and Gregg James.
Nelson, 30, is charged in the looting of Goodman’s Jewelers during the first night of protests in Madison on May 30 over the death George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody five days earlier. James, 23, is one of three men accused of making threats at a State Street bar in June.
A flier distributed at the “Black Out Block Party” Saturday does not name the group sponsoring it, but was instead aimed at letting Ozanne’s neighbors know he’s the DA and urging them to call his office to demand that charges against Nelson and James be dropped. It’s similar to a call to action put out on July 3 by Sawyer Johnson, a leader in the Madison chapter of the Party for Socialism and Liberation, that identifies Nelson, James and two others recently arrested as “Black revolutionary activists.”
Johnson responded to requests for comment via Facebook on Sunday night with derogatory memes.
With activists questioning the cash bail system or claiming people are being held in jail simply because they can’t make small bond amounts, Ozanne said, “we release about 82% of people on signature bonds.”