In what appears to be an act of white supremacist terrorism, on June 13, a woman was killed and three others injured when a motorist drove into a crowd of people gathered at Girard and Lake Streets in Uptown Minneapolis, protesting the recent police killing of Winston Smith.
According to witnesses, the woman killed, now identified as Deona Marie Knajdek Erickson, had parked her car in the intersection of Girard and Lake in order to block the street off from car traffic in an attempt to protect protesters. The driver struck Erickson’s parked vehicle at a high speed, which then struck her. She died later that night in the hospital. Witnesses speculated that had Erickson not parked her car there, it is possible many more protesters could have been seriously injured or killed. When the driver of the car attempted to flee on foot after driving into the crowd, protesters restrained him until police arrived.
The morning after Erickson’s death, flowers were laid on the corner of the intersection where she was struck; dried blood was still visible on the pavement. Erickson would have turned 32 this week. She was a mother to two daughters.
The timing of this attack coincides with a recent wave of new legislation across the country that attempts to criminalize protesting. Some of this new legislation, such as that recently passed in Oklahoma, even protects motorists who hit protesters. Supporters of this law claim it only applies to unintentional harm caused to protesters, according to WBEZ-FM, but since intent is notoriously difficult to prove in a court of law, the law has the potential to provide protection to motorists who intentionally run their cars into protesters.
This attack also occurred within a week of the city government of Minneapolis executing the removal of barricades from George Floyd Square. The barricades were placed in the streets surrounding George Floyd Square by protesters in order to protect the people inside the square from car traffic. The insistence of the Minneapolis city government on removing these protective barricades puts countless more lives in unnecessary danger.
Erickson was a passionate fighter in the struggle against racist police violence. Speaking to KARE-TV, her brother described her as a person who always stood up for what she believed in and was “willing to give her life for it.”
A post about the June 3 death of Winston Smith on Erickson’s Facebook page reads:
Today my heart is with your family, friends, your children and other loved ones.Deona Marie Erickson
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 🖤🖤🖤
Feature photo: A circle of red paint surrounds dried blood from a fatal attack on protesters in Minneapolis. Street art on a lamppost at the scene reads “know justice, know peace.” Liberation photo