What’s his name?
About 200 people gathered on Monday night to remember Tony Terrell Robinson, the 19-year old bi-racial man who died two years ago to the day after being shot by Madison Police Officer Matt Kenny.
The peaceful and racially diverse group started at Madison East High School and marched and chanted their way down East Washington Avenue to the Social Justice Center on Williamson Street – just a few doors down from the place where Tony Robinson died. Madison police stood by to redirect traffic.
The evening started with marchers carrying banners that read “Justice for Tony,” “Fire Matt Kenny,” and “Community Control of Police” and ended with candle light, a Phil Collins song and family members dancing in the street.
The night was about healing, support and remembering.
Helena White, Madison, showed up because it’s important that we don’t forget. “We know that African-American men are at risk and we need to remember this. Look what happened to Genele Laird last summer. Nothing had changed,” she told Madison365.
Tia Maeder, a lifelong Madison eastsider whose daughters grew up with Tony Robinson, was with her youngest daughter, Tiara, who showed up to support the family and brought along some girl scout cookies to sell. “It’s the season,” Tia Maeder said, wearing a “Black Lives Matter” t-shirt.
Andrea Irwin, Robinson’s mother, said that it’s been a hard day, but she wants Tony to be remembered in a positive manner. “The settlement wasn’t justice. I’m seeking to have him vindicated,” she told Madison365.
She wants people to look at the evidence on our website at www.tonyrobinsonshooting.com. “Our lawyers put everything on the website including depositions and forensic evidence.” She said, “Don’t take our word for it, look at the evidence and decide for yourself (if the shooting was justified).”
Irwin and her family were recently awarded a $3.35 million dollar settlement from the city of Madison’s insurance company for a civil wrongful death lawsuit. A couple hours prior to the rally at a news conference at the Assembly Parlor of the state Capitol building, attorneys Anand Swaminathan and David B. Owens presented a host of facts they uncovered through the course of their investigation that contradicts Officer Matt Kenny’s version of events that lead up to him shooting Robinson.
Eric Upchurch, organizer of the event and a member of Young, Gifted and Black (YGB), said that he wanted three things: Matt Kenny fired, community control of the police, and for the community to be able to set policy about who is fired and hired on the police force.
“Then maybe we can avoid this again,” he said.
“But mostly the night is about healing. We don’t want to forget,” Upchurch added.
Marchers reached the Social Justice Center about 6:30 p.m. and stood in the street just a few doors from 1225 Williamson Street where Robinson died. Four foot wide, orange and blue patterned cloth banners were tied to the trees to mark the home that now bears a “No Trespassing Sign” on the porch.
But this wasn’t a night for mourning.
Organizers passed out candles and Upchurch called for a moment of silence. He reminded everyone not to forget.
Lolo Carter, Robinson’s aunt, commented on the diverse make-up of the crowd.
“Looking at this eclectic crowd, I know that his death touched more than one community. We have to be the change we want to see,” she said and thanked the crowd for fighting back.
“I can see that his death didn’t just touch one community,” she added.
Finally, Robinson’s grandmother, Sharon Irwin, closed by playing a Phil Collin’s Song, “In the Air Tonight.” The song held special meaning to her and her grandson. “We loved to dance.”
“If anyone wants to dance with me, you’re welcome to,” she said.