Family, friends celebrate Tony Robinson’s birthday

Seven months removed from the fatal shooting of 19-year-old Tony Robinson, community members gathered Sunday to sing “Happy Birthday” to the teenager who would have turned 20.

Organizers of the event included the Young Gifted and Black Coalition, along with family and friends of Robinson, whose death sparked debate nationally on police relations with black men.

“We have a police chief that thinks implicit bias training and mental health training is the way to go even though all of that was implemented before Tony’s murder,” Matthew Braunginn, a YGB organizer said. “There’s a whole host of issues that we need to address, but first and foremost we have to be honest with ourselves.

The months following the incident where Madison Police Department Officer Matt Kenny fatally shot Robinson have been tough on the family, according to Robinson’s mother Andrea Irwin.

“It’s been surreal, unimaginable, a dream at times and a nightmare at most,” she said. “ I’ve seen the worst of people and the best of people.”

Irwin said she visited her son’s grave and told her son the story of when he was born, a tradition she does with each of her children on their birthday.

“I will always know where my son is going to be now, and every year instead of waking up to my son asking me where we’re going to eat, I have to deal with the fact that he is gone,” she said.

In May, Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne announced he would not criminally charge Kenny in the incident. An internal investigation by MPD also found Kenny compliant with their use-of-force policy and have had Kenny return to the force in non-patrol duties. 

The Robinson family sued the City of Madison in August for their response to the incident, though last week the city filed a letter to the federal court handling the case to dismiss the lawsuit, claiming the Kenny’s use-of-force was justified.

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