Community members stood with the family of Ricky Cobb II at George Floyd Square on Aug. 5, 2023 to offer support and demand justice for Cobb, who was fatally shot on July 31 by a Minnesota State Patrol trooper on I-94 in North Minneapolis.
“How many more people have to die until Minnesota wakes up to say enough is enough?!” asked Faith Allen, preaching to the dozens of activists gathered on Chicago Ave. for a rally and vigil. She urged people to get up and do something. “Use your power. Stand up. Use your voice. You have power.”
Rev. Jia Starr Brown acknowledged that, like many activists, she was tired and assured others that just being present – even if coming empty handed – mattered. “This is a space to say, ‘You don’t have to bring or be anything but yourself,’” she said. “It’s okay to be tired. This is exhausting.”
People offered comfort to one another through art, food, music and – at the end of the evening – dancing to the music of Brass Solidarity.
Cobb was pulled over for an alleged traffic violation. Dash camera and body-worn video footage released by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety shows a trooper, later identified as Brett Seide, talking to Cobb from the driver’s side of the vehicle. “I’m gonna need you to step out of the vehicle. We just have some stuff to talk about,” he is heard saying. The two of them are talking back and forth, with the trooper telling Cobb to give him his keys and Cobb asking why and whether he could contact his attorney. During this exchange, another trooper, Ryan Londregan, approaches from the passenger side, pulls the door open, reaches in with his gun drawn while shouting, “Get out of the car now!” and fires his gun.
Cobb drove forward a short distance before coming to a stop at the center divider. The medical examiner ruled Cobb’s death a homicide from multiple gunshot wounds.
According to Communities United Against Police Brutality (CUAPB), Londregan escalated the situation, which resulted in Cobb’s death. “These officers engaged in excessive, unnecessary force including deadly force that killed Mr. Cobb and endangered others,” read a CUAPB press release. A third trooper, Garrett Erickson, was also present.
Hennepin County Attorney Mary Moriarty issued a statement indicating that the three troopers have been placed on leave and the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) is investigating the incident. Activists have called for the troopers to be fired and charges brought immediately. On Aug. 18, the family announced their intent to file a civil lawsuit.
Family and friends of Cristian Rivera-Coba were also present for the rally and vigil. Rivera-Coba died in the Anoka County Jail on July 21, three days after he was incarcerated. The Sherburne County Sheriff’s Office is investigating his death.
A spokesperson with ties to the family said he asked them to come. “I brought them to 38th and Chicago today to see that there’s a whole community that they didn’t even know existed,” he said. “I just wanted to show them there’s a whole group of people that will stand up with them, fight for answers, fight so we know what happened to Cristian and get them the justice they deserve.”