Music, spoken word poetry and comforting conversation filled James Madison Park Sunday as members of the Madison community gathered to celebrate Tony Robinson’s life.
On March 6, Madison Police Department Officer Matt Kenny shot and killed 19-year-old Robinson. Sunday’s event, held on the shores of Lake Mendota, brought together a diverse crowd to celebrate Robinson’s life, Lorien Carter, Tony Robinson’s aunt, said.
“This is a coming together of everybody. We have all different nationalities, all different walks of life,” Carter said.
Carter was also one of the spoken word performers at Sunday’s gathering, and said she began writing poetry at a young age. Poetry has continued to play a role in her life since her nephew’s death, both as a means of expression and as a way of uniting the community, she said.
Carter performed two poems she wrote, titled “Where I’m From” and “My Nephew was not a Victim.”
“I want every body to feel the passion and the fire that I feel,” Carter said. “I want people to relate to me on a personal level. The only way that I can think of to do that is through poetry.”
Carter’s poem “Where I’m From” was written when she was 13 years old and living in New York City, she said. The poem depicts the violence, police based and otherwise, that surrounded her.
Though the inspiration for her poem was New York City, the poem has become relevant in the wake of her nephew’s death, she said.
When Carter’s microphone stopped working during one of her poems, she continued her performance with just her voice, earning an enthusiastic crowd response.
“My nephew was not a victim. Simply put, victims do not survive. He is our own martyr who dwells forever in our lives,” Carter said during her performance of “My Nephew was not a Victim.”
Whiteboards and markers were placed for visitors to write messages to the Robinson family. Tye-dyed cloth stretched across tables where hand written messages read things such as, “rest in power baby boy,” and “#Justice4Tony.”
A donation box was also available for those wishing to make a donation in support of the Robinson family.
Many members of the community unrelated to the Robinson family also appeared at the event to show their support.
Erin Grueter, a teacher at Wright Middle School, has been involved in various forms of social action as a part of the Middle School since the Robinson shooting.
The event served as a means for spreading awareness within the community, Grueter said. Grassroots gatherings like this celebration help to show there is a community available for those who wish to show support, she said.
“I’m hopeful that this will expand people’s thinking and expand dialogue so that this doesn’t happen in the future,” Grueter said.
The Robinson family announced at the event that the family will be gathering at the Social Justice Center on Williamson Street when the District Attorney Ismael Ozanne’s decision is released and invited any members of the community to join them at that time.