Community demands justice for Ronald Davis
St. Paul, MN – Nearly 100 community members and activists gathered September 22 in front of the Western District police station here to demand justice for Ronald Davis, who was shot and killed by Saint Paul police officer Steven Mattson on September 17.
31-year-old Ronald Davis was a father, recently married, and had just graduated school. After allegedly bumping his vehicle into the back of a cop car, he stepped out of his vehicle and Mattson gunned him down.
Speakers at the opening rally included people who know Davis, as well as family members whose loved ones were murdered by Twin Cities area cops. Abdul, a friend of Ronald Davis, said, “It’s disgusting that the people who are supposed to protect us are out here killing us. When I heard the news, I was shocked because he was a very respectful, kind person. He would say, ‘Yes, sir; yes, ma’am. He wasn’t an aggressive person, even though he was big.”
Then the group took to the streets, blocking traffic and light rail, chanting loudly all the way, to the location where the cop killed Ronald the week before. Chant leaders included Sumaya Aden, whose brother Isak Aden was murdered in the nearby suburb of Eagan on July 2, as well as Toshira Garraway, whose fiancé was killed by Saint Paul police.
At the murder site, the crowd held a vigil with candles, prayers, speeches, sage burning, a spoken word piece, and a song by relative and activist Daphne Brown. Neighbors and passersby also joined the vigil.
Near the end of the vigil, there was a heartbreaking moment as Ronald Davis’ widow, deeply grieving and choked by tears, thanked the crowd for standing up for her husband and family.
Ronald Davis is the third person killed by Twin Cities metro area police in as many weeks, and the tenth person killed by Minnesota police since July, a fact alluded to by speakers from several groups, including Communities United Against Police Brutality, Justice for Justine, the Racial Justice Network and Justice for Isak Aden.
Monique Cullars Doty, whose nephew Marcus Golden was murdered by Saint Paul police, said of Ronald, “He really was a gentle soul and a wonderful person, not a person who would act in the character as the Saint Paul police have described him. We know the St. Paul police are the deadliest police department in the state.”
Loretta Van Pelt, from Twin Cities Coalition for Justice for Jamar (TCC4J) said, “Enough is enough. When you shoot that gun, when that cop shoots that gun, they shouldn’t have a job anymore. It shouldn’t be a paid vacation with administrative leave.” TCC4J is fighting for community control of the police, to keep dangerous cops off the force, and to hand out immediate and serious punishment to officers who brutalize and murder.
After the vigil, the group marched back to the police station chanting and closed with the Assata call and response: “It is our duty to fight for our freedom. It is our duty to win. We must love each other and support each other. We have nothing to lose but our chains.”