St. Paul, MN – A hundred or so people gathered in front of the Amtrak station on Kellogg Boulevard in St. Paul on April 5 to protest the police killing of Chad Robertson and hold a vigil for him and his mother Candice Robertson, who had passed earlier in the day. The somber evening protest, which had been planned in advance to Chad’s mother Candice being shot by a stray bullet over the weekend, continued despite the news of Candice passing away during the morning.
— Unicorn Riot (@UR_Ninja) April 6, 2017
Chad Robertson, twenty-five-year-old father of two and family member to many, was unarmed when he was shot in the back by Amtrak officer LaRoyce Tankson on February 8 in Chicago, and died a week later from his injuries. Tankson has since been charged with first degree murder.
We spoke to Chad’s girlfriend and mother of his one-year-old daughter after the event. She gave an emotional testimony to who Chad was, seeing him in the hospital before he passed away, his questions as to why he was shot, the love he had for his family, and how much she misses and loves him.
“He was with me and his child every day. Always with his kids, did everything for us … He was a very good man and for him, suffering like that and going through the pain that he went through, it was just not right … He was like, ‘what happened to me, why’d the police shoot me?’ … I just wanna say I love him so much and miss him so much … We need justice.” – Aterria Lipsey, Chad’s girlfriend
Unicorn Riot was live to document the protest and speak with a few folks afterwards. After speaking about Chad, many of the speakers during the rally focused on the next steps that the most marginalized communities can take to create a world without police, and also connected the deaths of both Chad and his mother to systematic oppression.
Michelle Gross of Communities United Against Police Brutality spoke about the two million dollar lawsuit that St. Paul just approved to pay Frank Baker after a St. Paul police officer brutally kicked and threw him to the ground. She talked about how the taxpayers foot that bill and pushed for insurance for the police.
Tony Williams spoke about building an infrastructure without police and how the ideas of police reform, wearing body cameras, and police accountability weren’t going to save anybody.
Danielle Swift spoke about the upcoming community meeting that was created out of the Cordale Handy protest that disrupted St. Paul’s City Council meeting two weeks ago. The viability of the meeting, organized by members of Black Lives Matter – St. Paul and originally agreed to by councilmembers Stark, Thao, and Prince during the protest in the council chambers, has been questioned after political turmoil erupted between councilmember Thao and St. Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell. The event, Community Space: A Place to Be Heard will be held at the High School for Recording Arts on April 13 at 6 p.m.
Kenya McKnight talked about self-preservation being the first line of order. She talked about ‘breaking through the fear’ and asked “so you just gon’ lay down and let the police kill you and you do nothing about it?” She furthered,
“Until we get ready to face our fears, address ourselves, be our own security, our own prosperity, take control of our lives, we’re gonna have what we have … why are we asking the system for help?” – Kenya McKnight
After the protest, which featured many more speakers than written about above, Unicorn Riot spoke with protest organizer Mel Reeves. He spoke about internalized oppression, capitalism, racism, classism, and other elements of the “system” that damage marginalized communities. He also spoke about his ideas to build community and ways of “fighting back against all the injustices” that capitalism is bringing.
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