Family of slain Minneapolis activist calls for justice

Rosemary Nevils-Williams, mother of activist Tyrone Williams.
Rosemary Nevils-Williams, mother of activists Tyrone Williams and Raiesha Williams, right, speaks about the death of her son during a press conference in north Minneapolis on Wednesday, April 4, 2018.
Evan Frost | MPR News

The family of a well-known Minneapolis community activist is asking for anyone with information about his death to come forward.

Family, friends and allies of 33-year-old Tyrone Rashad Williams gathered down the block from where he was found with a gunshot wound shortly after 6 p.m. on Tuesday. Police say he was brought to Hennepin County Medical Center where he died a short time later.

Williams' family spoke Wednesday of his life of activism, which they say included protests against the killing of Philando Castile, deportations of immigrants and the Dakota Access Pipeline at Standing Rock.

"Whenever there was something that needed to be done, he would be there for whoever, wherever," said his mother, Rosemary Nevils-Williams. "I know his living was not in vain."

Williams' activism wasn't just political, said Jess Sundin of the Twin Cities Coalition for Justice 4 Jamar.

"Tyrone was someone who not only brought fire with his words but brought love everywhere he went," Sundin said. "So many times on the streets, people turned to Tyrone to keep them safe and to fuel their strength, because Tyrone understood that the way that this world is is wrong, and it doesn't need to be like this."

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Williams and a friend garnered national attention in 2016 after they discovered that a photo displayed at a Roseville Joe's Crab Shack was showing the lynching of a black man. The company removed the image and apologized.

Tyrone Williams and Chauntyll Allen
Tyrone Williams, left, and Chauntyll Allen pose for a photo in front of Joe's Crab Shack in Roseville, March 10, 2016.
Mukhtar Ibrahim | MPR News 2016

Williams' sister, Raeisha Williams, said the family has deep roots in Minnesota, and that Williams was known as an ally across lots of communities in the Twin Cities.

"Honor my brother as an individual and not another slain African American male on the northside," she told gathered journalists. "He was a freedom fighter, he was a community activist, he was a lover, he was a father, he was a son, he was an uncle, he was a friend to many people standing here and many of those that couldn't come here."

Raeisha Williams said her brother was still breathing when he was loaded into the ambulance, but that police told the family he'd died when they arrived at the hospital.

Raiesha Williams stands with 2 of her nephews.
Raiesha Williams stands with 2 of her nephews, both sons of her slain brother, Tyrone, during a press conference regarding his death in north Minneapolis the previous day on Wednesday, April 4, 2018.
Evan Frost | MPR News

"We don't know what happened, we don't know why it happened, and we don't know who did it," Raeisha Williams said. "But we're asking that anybody who has information on this murder, on this heinous crime, come forward if you know any information."

Anyone with information about Williams' death can call CrimeStoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or the MPD TIP Line at 612-692-TIPS (8477). Anonymous texts can also be sent to 847411 (TIP411), with a message starting with "MPD."