The family of Eishia Hudson — a 16-year-old girl shot and killed by Winnipeg police last week — say they had “no words” to describe the overwhelming support they felt at a memorial held for her Sunday evening.
Her mother said they wanted to pay tribute to the teen at the place where she died.
“We’re here to let her soul rise,” Christie Zebrasky said.
Dozens of supporters gathered around the intersection near Lagimodiere Boulevard and Fermor Avenue where Hudson died after being shot by officers following an alleged liquor store robbery on Wednesday.
Family members were surrounded by friends and community members holding up homemade signs with messages that read “Justice for Eishia Hudson” and “Rest in Peace” in her memory.
“My daughter would say ‘this is loud’ — like her name is going across all over and I can’t imagine how happy she is,” Zebrasky said, adding she hopes something positive comes out of it.
Zebrasky said she wants to see the officer who pulled the trigger that led to her daughter’s death go through the justice system. She believes the officers involved deserve to go to jail.
“Shooting isn’t acceptable. Pulling the trigger and killing people isn’t acceptable,” she said.
As far as Zebrasky knows, her daughter is the youngest girl to die in a police-involved shooting in the city. Winnipeg police did not have information available while working from home late Sunday to confirm if she was in fact the youngest on record.
Hudson’s parents say eagles circling overhead for nearly half an hour during the vigil was a special sign to them.
“That was my Eishia, just watching … watching the outcome, everybody showing up,” said William Hudson, her father, adding that he believes the birds represent her, as part of his tradition.
More than 70 people had met up at the highway intersection by around 6 p.m. Vehicles lined a left turning lane and some people stepped out to show respect to Hudson and her loved ones from a safe distance.
Organizers on social media had reminded participants to practice safe physical distancing by staying apart while coming together. The province announced last week it would be clamping down on a provincial public health order that mandates no more than 10 people at public gatherings and advises keeping at least two metres away from each other.
The planned vigil for Hudson was expected to run for four hours to mark the number of days since she died.
Police say the teen was driving a stolen vehicle used to rob a Liquor Mart in Winnipeg’s Sage Creek neighbourhood. Officers are accusing a group of five teens — ages 15 and 16 — of robbing the store just before 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday.
Zebrasky denies that her daughter was involved in the robbery, although she may have been the driver. She said she believes Hudson was “scared” for her life at the time.
Hudson was one of two people shot and killed by police in less than 12 hours in the city. A 36-year-old man — who family identified Saturday as Jason Collins — died after police shot him outside a home on Anderson Avenue early Thursday morning.
Officers block traffic
Police blockades shut down the four-way crossroads at Highway 1 and Highway 59 for just over two hours on Sunday evening. Traffic was being redirected through nearby communities and a service road.
Zebrasky said organizers had notified the city about the gathering leading up to it.
Leah Gazan, the Member of Parliament for Winnipeg Centre, said in a tweet she tried to attend the vigil but police had blocked the area off.
Tried to attend the Vigil for Eishia Hudson however the police had the area blocked off. This is the second shooting of a young person because of a police altercation. We need a better path forward that supports children, youth, families, and community. Eishia’s Life mattered.
Winnipeg police Const. Rob Carver said officers blocked traffic on the roads and limited vehicular access to the intersection, but did not stop anyone — including federal politicians — from attending.
“We’re trying to do what we have to do,” he said, adding police behaved “no different” than any other vigil or significant event taking place on a roadway, whether outside a university or at a major highway intersection.
“We would not prevent anyone from going into the area … if we let someone drive into the area and someone was then struck, it would be on us.”
There is online commentary tonight that the Winnipeg Police Service limited access to people who had attended a vigil at Lagimodière Boulevard & Fermor Avenue this evening.
Carver said police did not shut down the event, contrary to what he called an “inaccurate comment” circulating on social media.
The family disputes the police’s characterization of the event as a “protest” in an earlier tweet notifying the public about the temporary road closures.
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