Minneapolis, MN – A driver rammed his Jeep Cherokee at a high speed into a car protecting a crowd of Winston Smith protesters on Sunday night, killing the parked car’s owner and injuring two others. A mainstay at the near-daily Winston Smith protests, 31-year-old Deona Marie Erickson was pronounced dead from her injuries after arriving to the hospital.
A mother of two, Erickson worked as a program manager at a facility for adults with disabilities. This Wednesday was going to be her 32nd birthday and this Friday would have been a year sober for her.
The driver, 35-year-old Nicholas David Kraus from St. Paul, has been charged with vehicular homicide, giving police false information, and driving with a suspended license. Kraus’ license had previously been suspended because of numerous charges of driving while impaired.
After a large protest on Sunday calling for justice for Winston Smith, dozens of activists were still taking space on Girard Ave and Lake St. near the parking ramp where Smith was shot to death by federalized sheriff’s deputies on June 3.
Deona Erickson’s car was parked on the side of the street in a way that would protect the people who were gathering. She was sitting down on the sidewalk about 15 feet from her car moments before the perpetrator smashed directly against her car at a very high speed. Witnesses say she was then hit by her car and sent flying. Street medics on the scene resuscitated her but she later died at the hospital.
Witnesses state that the driver revved his engine from a few blocks away, continued to gain speed, and revved the engine again before the fatal collision. The driver got out of his vehicle and tried to run, according to witnesses. Activist Tony Clark detained the driver and turned him over to police, who greeted protesters seeking help with pepper spray and riot gear instead of an ambulance and EMTs.
Street medics performed CPR and resuscitated her. Community apprehended the driver. Cops just showed up and threatened everyone with mace, arrests, and rubber bullets.
— Comrade B ✡︎ (@ohnolife_) June 14, 2021
Activist Lavish Mack, who like Deona Erickson has been a mainstay at Winston Smith protests, streamed live from Instagram immediately after Kruas drove his car into the crowd. Mack spoke about Erickson on the livestream, saying she was one of the nicest people he’d ever met.
Visible in Mack’s stream is Kraus, the driver of the car, being detained by Clark and turned over to police, the quick reactions of the medics to attend to Deona, and the police response to the traumatized activists. Below, a clip from Mack’s stream showing an officer screaming at Mack that an ambulance “would be here a lot sooner if you guys weren’t in the fuckin’ street.” KingDemetrius Pendleton also streamed the aftermath of the car killing.
This is a very tiny clip of Lavish’s live from last night that only shows an interaction with one particular cop that I thought was illuminating if unfuckingsurprising. The cop says the ambulance would arrive faster if “you weren’t here” ie the protesters weren’t in the street. pic.twitter.com/2zAvMP0lhO
— Rachel Bean (@colocha_rachel) June 14, 2021
Meanwhile, local media is out here being concerned about the welfare of the murderer. pic.twitter.com/nF4PWG2huB
— Ian Coldwater 📦💥 (@IanColdwater) June 14, 2021
Numerous people have been killed and dozens have been injured in recent years by vehicular attacks against anti-racist and anti-police protests. In Minneapolis, dozens of drivers have rammed into, or attempted to ram into protests in recent years.
At least three people have lost their lives in the U.S. after being hit by vehicles while they were protesting against racism and police in the last four years: Heather Heyer was killed in Charlottesville in 2017 opposing white supremacists; Summer Taylor was killed in Seattle in 2020 during a march for Black femmes; and Deona Marie who was killed on June 13, 2021, in Minneapolis during a protest for Winston Smith.
Deona’s family gathered at the scene today and her friends and supporters are holding the space.
A rally, march, and vigil are planned for Deona Erickson throughout Monday afternoon and evening.
Deona should be alive. pic.twitter.com/E9u3UZ0aza
— Whittier Cop Watch (@whittcopwatch) June 14, 2021
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