(WORT)–On a windy Sunday afternoon, hundreds of people gathered on Madison’s Near East Side to mark the one-year anniversary of Tony Robinson’s death with calls for remembrance, and with renewed calls for justice.
Robinson’s mother, Andrea Irwin, led the group in a two-and-a-half hour march that culminated in a candlelight vigil at 1125 Williamson Street, the site of her teenage son’s death.
“Don’t forget him, don’t forget what happened here. We have a responsibility to change our futures and change our community,” Irwin told the vigil.
On March 6, 2015, Madison Police Officer Matt Kenny encountered Robinson, who was under the influence of drugs, in the stairwell of the Williamson Street apartment building.
Kenny, who is white, shot the biracial 19-year-old 7 times in an incident that sparked months of protest against state violence and systemic racism.
As the sun went down Sunday, the mood grew increasingly somber. The porch where Robinson died was lit up with blue lights and decorated with handmade garlands and messages reading “You’re the sun to my morning” and “It’s going to be alright / Baby live your life.”
Lorien Carter, Irwin’s sister, remembered her nephew as a beautifully imperfect human being.
“We don’t come here to portray the image of a perfect kid. You kids aren’t perfect. I wasn’t perfect,” Carter said. “We come here to portray the light of someone who was beautiful, who touched hearts in this community.”
Although it was largely the family and friends of Tony Robinson who set the tone during Sunday’s events, community allies and members of the Young Gifted and Black coalition were also present to show their support.
Family members of several other African American men killed by police traveled from Chicago and Milwaukee to participate in the march.
Standing alongside Irwin, Gloria Pinex of Chicago placed Robinson’s death in a broader context of state violence against people of color.
“My son was Darius Pinex, murdered five years ago by CPD in a routine traffic stop,” Pinex said. “I’m tired of turning on my television and seeing someone’s child murdered by police. Enough is enough.”
David Muhammad, a Madison native who now lives in Milwaukee, took Dane County to task for incarcerating people of color at the highest rates in the nation while failing to indict Madison Police Officer Matt Kenny in the killing of Tony Robinson.
“This wicked county that talks like they love everybody, but only incarcerates black and brown bodies,” Muhammad said.
According to Madison Police Chief Mike Koval, Officer Kenny will not be put on patrol any time soon, but he is training new police officers and working with the mounted police division.
In August of 2015, Tony Robinson’s family filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the city of Madison and Officer Kenny. That suit is still pending.