Madison-Based Youth Organization Pushes for Legislative Change
Impact Demand is a newly-formed organization led by Madison youth with three primary demands — community control of police, outlawing no-knock warrants and the Hands Up Act.
Founded by a group of youth protesters, Impact Demand has approximately 15 to 16 active workers leading departments within the organization and over 300 volunteers throughout the community.
Member of Impact Demand Juliana Bennett said their mission is to empower young people in Madison to make positive change throughout the community.
“We are organizers, you are the leader. Together we are making strides in the common goal of demanding change for the betterment of Black Lives — to mold a more equitable tomorrow into reality today,” Bennett said.
Ayomi Obuseh, a founding member of Impact Demand, said outrage from the murder of unarmed Black man George Floyd by Minneapolis police spawned the organization.
“It is not an organization that [had] a foundation already created for us,” Obuseh said. “It was started by protesters coming together in the wake of George Floyd’s murder.”
Obuseh has been advocating in the Madison community since high school, before helping create Impact Demand.
Obuseh said Impact Demand has started hosting educational events for the community.
“Our mission is to impact communities and demand change through policy, education and activism,” Obuseh said. “And through that, we host events [where] we try to educate everyone in the community as a whole.”
Members of the organization emphasized they are not leaders in the movement, but rather the organizers of individuals in the community looking to affect change.
Since June, Impact Demand hosted and organized multiple events such as the Paint Your Pride event held July 12 to celebrate Black LGBTQ+ lives and remember those who have passed away. They also organized the Glow in the Dark March for Black Lives on June 18 during the fourth week of the Madison protests.
Additionally, Impact Demand works closely with other organizations such as Freedom Inc. and Urban Triage, both of which are non-profit organizations who describe themselves as working toward social justice and empowerment for Black communities and other communities of color.
Some of these organizations’ efforts include removing police from Madison schools and distributing funds in support of COVID-19 relief efforts — Impact Demand supports and pushes for both efforts simultaneously.
“We plan on having more events, tied into a youth-led movement, to showcase the kids that are also part of [the movement] and how the stuff that we’re doing affects their future and amplifying the youth voice,” Obuseh said.
Impact Demand focuses on modern-day society when drawing up event concepts and targets their message toward young people to drive their desired structural changes.
Obuseh and Bennett both highlighted the importance of the Black Lives Matter movement in fueling their efforts.
“I think this whole [movement] has been a progression,” Bennett said. “The Civil Rights Movement never really ended. With George Floyd igniting the momentum again [amidst] COVID-19, it brings a spotlight on the inadequacies in our current system. This is not a riot, this is a revolution.”
Bennett drew attention to a quote uttered at one of the open-mic peaceful protests in Madison, “I do not want my grandchildren fighting for the same thing my grandfather fought for,” accentuating the long-term, deep-rooted injustices that she said have been present in the United States.
Impact Demand is still a fledgling movement and, according to Obuseh, the organization has a number of plans in place to launch its next steps.
Bennett said Impact Demand has met with local officials and alders, and revealed the organization will meet soon with Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes.
Obuseh shared her own aspirations for Madison and the United States and said she hopes protesters will work to hold those in power accountable.
“My hope is that everyone continues to question everything,” Obuseh said. “Question their city, their representatives, because when you question and when you challenge people, you get answers, and that changes your perspective of what your reality looks like.”
Impact Demand has a webpage and is active on social media platforms such Instagram and Facebook, providing a space through which individuals can acquire information and contact the organization to volunteer and get involved.