A march and candlelight vigil was held Wednesday night to mark the four year anniversary of Tony Robinson’s death.
An unarmed 19-year-old Tony Terrell Robinson was shot and killed by police officer Matt Kenny on March 6, 2015. The anniversary event was held at the Social Justice Center on Williamson Street, blocks away from the apartment where Robinson was killed.
More than 50 people participated in the vigil.
Sharon Irwin, Robinson’s grandmother, called the racial disparities in law enforcement a national crisis.
“How many of you have to die to make these people understand this is not right?” Irwin asked.
People marching on Williamson Street called for change, chanting, “What is his name? Tony Robinson. Who do they kill? Tony Robinson.”
Gregory Gelembiuk, a vocal critic of police, said there’s evidence that changes needed in Madison’s police department — such as the high rate of officer-involved shootings and the high racial disparities in the arrest rate.
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While living on Jennifer Street, Gelembiuk’s neighborhood has seen three fatal police-involved shootings since 2012.
“I live a block from where Paul Heenan was shot in November of 2012, and [in] the other direction Tony Robinson was shot, and then a few blocks back toward the lake Michael Schumacher was shot,“ Gelembiuk said. “Every case was avoidable.”
While the situation was discouraging, Gelembiuk said change is happening. He cited the Madison Police Department Policy Procedure Review Ad Hoc Committee, which reviews police department culture, training and procedures and develops changes in police policy, is an important step.
Gelembiuk said changes occurring now have contributed to the absence of fatal, police-involved shootings throughout the past two years. There has been just one officer-involved shooting in the past two years.
Gelembiuk said that he is glad to see an annual memorial for Robinson.
“It’s the only way that real change will happen,” Gelembiuk said.
After the march, protestors gathered and lit Chinese-style lanterns in remembrance of Robinson.