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Flint, MI: Tallahassee activists, community members demand justice for Donald Stokes II

By staff |
July 14, 2021
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Donald Stokes II
Donald Stokes II (Fight Back! News/Holly Drinkwine)

Flint, MI - On July 12, two dozen Flint community members and some unexpected allies from Tallahassee, Florida gathered in front of the downtown Flint courthouse, to demand justice for Donald Stokes II. Stokes was a 19-year-old African American teenager killed in Flint, Michigan.

In the early-morning hours of May 23, Donald Stokes, affectionately also known as “Nephew” and “Dapper,” approached what he believed to be his brother's house. According to his family, before Stokes even made it to the top of the steps, he was shot three times by the as-yet-unnamed homeowner. The Genesee County Prosecutor’s Office refuses to press charges against the homeowner, citing Michigan’s “self-defense” law, Act 309.

Stokes’ brother, Markeem Davis, does not agree with this decision. “The homeowner unlocked two locks. He opened the front door and shot him [Stokes] through the screen door before my brother could knock or open the screen door, before he was fully on the porch.”

According a WNEM news article, Genesee County prosecuting attorney David Leyton, who is up for re-election, said, "I stand by my decision. The shooting was justified under Michigan law.”

According to Donald Stoke’s aunt, Holly Drinkwine, the details do not add up.

“He [the anonymous homeowner] watched Donald through his home security system. He had a dog. He put on a bulletproof vest, told his wife to put on a bullet proof vest. He unlocked his doors. He didn’t even call 911 until after he shot Donald. There was no proof that Donald was trying to break into that man’s house.”

Latonya Watkins, the mother of Raheem Reeder of Flint who was killed this April in Florida by the Tallahassee Police Department, happened upon the Flint courthouse protest. She was with seven visiting activists of the Tallahassee Community Action Committee (TCAC) who she had invited to Flint for her departed son’s birthday celebration days before. Like the Stokes family, the Reeder family are also seeking justice, and Reeder’s killer is also as-yet unnamed.

As the groups introduced themselves to one another and became one, Latonya Watkins hugged Donald Stokes’ mother, Kimberly Stokes.

Regina Joseph, president of the visiting Tallahassee Community Action Committee, witnessed the moment. “These mothers were holding each other and asking one another, ‘How old was your boy?’ ‘21. How old was yours?’ ‘19.’ At that point I almost broke down.”

Joseph continued, “We came here to make the connection between the Black Lives Matter movement in Flint and Tallahassee, to strengthen the overall Black liberation movement, and push the demands for community control of the police. From Florida to Flint, there is a criminal injustice system that continues to rob the lives of people that look like me and keep anonymous the people who kill us.”

Attendees at the July 12 courthouse rally held signs that read, “Justice for Donald” and “No Act 309.” Markeem Davis shouted on the megaphone, “Justice for Donald!” Trish Brown, also of TCAC, led the crowd in chants: “Whose streets? Our streets!” “Say his name! Donald Stokes!” and “Hey, hey, ho, ho, David Leyton has got to go.”

Markeem Davis affirmed his family’s intention to continue to protest and demand justice for ‘Nephew.’ “We are demanding that justice be served for my brother, Donlad Stokes II, and that we have our day in court. It’s important to tell his story because he can’t.”

Donald Stokes’ family urge all who want justice for Donald Stokes II to find, like, and follow the Facebook page Long Live Nephew for next steps and upcoming actions.

The Facebook group can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/4187051451382665

You can also donate to the family, here: https://www.gofundme.com/f/donald-stokes-ii-help-with-funeral-expenses

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