As hundreds gathered to mourn Erika Robinson, they honored her not just in memory and words of praise. They wore the designs and styles she created before a mass shooter’s stray bullet cut her life short.
More than 300 mourners, many tearing up, clutching handfuls of tissues, comforted by others in their wailing expressions of inconsolable grief, filed into the sanctuary of the Agape Christian Center on Goffe Street Saturday mourning to pay last respects to Robinson, the 26-year old budding fashion designer, who was killed in the mass shooting at the Key Club Cabaret on Saint John Street the previous Saturday.
(Click here to read details of that apparent targeted shooting, sprayed bullets from which killed Robinson and wounded four other bystanders. Click here read an interview with the grieving parents, Celeste and Greg Fulcher.)
Before the service began Saturday, hundreds solemnly filed by Robinson who lay in an open coffin. It was white on the outside and lavendar on the inside. Draped on either side were red and white flowers—and beside them T-shirts and other items logo-ed with Robinson’s emerging HOL, or High Off Life, fashion line.
“She wanted us to keep it going,” said Lakeisha Robinson, Erika’s sister.
She described her sibling as so giving and generous of heart she never bothered to trademark her designs. “So I got it trademarked,” she said as she fought back tears.
“She was an angel in disguise for all of us. She was so beautiful. Her purpose was to bring us all together and to realize we have to stop” the violence, Robinson added.
That was the second, starker theme struck by speakers at the funeral: how there is no time to delay in ending black-on-black killing, which ends so many dreams.
Family spokesperson, Robinson cousin, and New Haven police officer Shafiq Abdussabur began by prayerfully saying that only God will get the family through a day like today.
Then he added: “Black people should not be killing black people in America. We are not a violent people; we are a spiritual people. We didn’t fight our way out of slavery; we prayed our way out. That we still allow people that we know have guns to walk around and be with us ... Make a commitment to find something you can do so this doesn’t happen again, not just in a nightclub but on street corners in a school bus.”
Democratic mayoral candidate Toni Harp also spoke after meeting with the family. “Erika was not a statistic or example. She personified living life to the fullest. Let us rededicate ourselves so this never, never happens again in our community.
Independent candidate Justin Elicker was also in attendance, as was Chief of Police Dean Esserman. Esserman stationed himself at the doorway and personally expressed his condolences to people one at a time as they moved into the sanctuary.
After the service Robinson was taken for interment at the Evergreen Cemetery.