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Minneapolis march honors murdered protester Deona Marie Erickson

By Jess Sundin |
June 15, 2021
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Deona Marie Erickson
Deona Marie Erickson
DeShaun McDonald of the Twin Cities Coalition for Justice for Jamar (TCC4J), spe
DeShaun McDonald of the Twin Cities Coalition for Justice for Jamar (TCC4J), speaking at the protest.

Minneapolis, MN - 1500 community members gathered at Girard Avenue and Lake Street in Minneapolis, June 14, for a “March in Honor of Deona Marie,” organized by Black Lives Matter Minnesota. The night before, Deona Marie Erickson was killed by a driver who attacked protesters demanding justice for Winston Smith.

Just before midnight on Sunday, June 13, Nicholas Kraus plowed through parked cars barricading the street where community members were gathered. Witnesses report that he was going 100 miles per hour and accelerated as he approached the protest. They say that the barricade of cars saved many lives. One of those cars belonged to the 31-year-old Erickson, and it was sent flying through the air. It took down a light pole, injured three protesters, and killed Erickson. Street medics performed CPR before EMTs arrived, but Erickson was pronounced dead at the hospital.

After he crashed, Kraus tried to run from the scene, but protesters detained him until police took him into custody. When Minneapolis police arrived on the scene, they were aggressive towards the traumatized protesters, threatening them with mace. Kraus has been charged with vehicular homicide, giving police false information and driving with a suspended license. Some media reports suggest he was drunk, though witnesses all reported smelling no alcohol on him.

Erickson was a young white woman, mother of two, moved to action by the recent police murder of Winston Smith, a father, comedian and rapper. He was ambushed in a parking lot and killed by a U.S. marshals task force in Minneapolis on June 3. Initial media reports asserted that he was a murder suspect, but this was a false report. Erickson, along with other community members, and the friends and family of Smith have maintained a presence at site of his death.

Speakers on Tuesday included some who were present when Erickson was killed, as well as other community leaders. One read from Erickson’s own social media post about Winston Smith, from the day before her own murder. “Today my heart is with your family, friends, your children and other loved ones.. Today you get to rest… you wanted to see a change and I really think you were the man to start that change.. I’m sorry… but we ARE going to get change for you and all the others, we will get justice, you changed the world while you were here and in your name a lot more change is still to come. Rest in Power Winston Smith.”

On Wednesday, June 16, on what should have been Erickson’s 32nd birthday, the Twin Cities Coalition for Justice (TCC4J) and other groups will hold a birthday balloon release to celebrate Erickson’s life and a march for Smith.

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