Daetwan Robinson, the suspect charged in a hit-and-run crash that killed two young girls is a left-wing community organizer who has canvassed for and met with numerous major Democratic Party figures including Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and several presidential candidates.
Robinson, 19, was charged Friday with six felonies in connection with the October 24th crash that killed six year-old A'Lisa Gee and her four year-old sister A'Mea Gee as they crossed Center St. at N. 22nd St. with their 10 year-old cousin, Drevyze Rayford, who was seriously injured.
According to a criminal complaint, Robinson was driving so quickly in a bicycle lane that when his car sped through the intersection and hit the children, it appeared to be fishtailing on two wheels. A'Lisa was pronounced dead at the scene while A'Mea died several days later. Drevyze was released from the hospital late last week. Robinson fled the scene and was found when an anonymous tipster told police that she had seen a vehicle matching a description of Robinson's car posted for sale online. When officers tracked the post to Robinson, they found his car locked in a garage partially spray painted black with its window tinting removed in an effort to change its appearance. A piece of the front fender found at the scene fit the car perfectly.
Robinson did not have a valid driver's license at the time of the crash. Just ten days earlier, his license was suspended for a year after he failed to pay a $174 speeding ticket.
He is currently being held on $500,000 bail.
Just hours before the crash, The Washington Post published a story about Democratic Party community organizers in Milwaukee that featured Robinson and his family prominently. His mother, Keisha Robinson, is the program director of Black Leaders Organizing for Communities (BLOC), and Robinson and several of his brothers work as ambassadors for the group. In fact, just three weeks before the crash, Robinson himself was named BLOC's Ambassador of the Week.
"Daetwan is the youngest ambassador in the program this year," the group said in a Facebook post. "Recently we were able to watch him graduate from high school and he has continued to grow and evolve into the Ambassador he is today. He is incredibly loyal to his fellow ambassadors and shines when he is with the rest of the team."
BLOC's team was assembled two years ago with the express purpose of turning out African-American voters for Democratic candidates.
"Thirteen months before the next presidential election, national Democratic leaders are once again talking about black voter turnout,"The Washington Post feature on the group noted. "But in battleground states such as Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan — which all flipped to vote for Trump after decades of backing the Democratic presidential nominee — the task of doing something about it has often fallen on local activists such as [BLOC executive director Angela] Lang.
"With the help of local lawmakers and union organizers, Lang launched Black Leaders Organizing for Communities (BLOC) in November 2017 to focus on voters in Milwaukee’s most impoverished neighborhoods, places where paid canvassers for campaigns often don’t go because they deem it too dangerous or because many residents, with criminal records, are not eligible to vote. Persuading those who are eligible to participate in elections often requires addressing decades of neglect."
In recent months, BLOC has met with Democratic presidential candidates Amy Klobuchar, Cory Booker, and Julian Castro, as well as former candidate Beto O'Rourke. Robinson personally met with and posed for pictures with at least Castro and Klobuchar.
The group has also hosted former Attorney General Eric Holder on multiple occasions, and Robinson personally met with him at least once.
Last October, BLOC's Twitter account posted pictures from a meeting Robinson appears to have attended with Mayor Barrett, after which Barrett joined Robinson's mother and another BLOC ambassador on a vote canvass on behalf of then-gubernatorial candidate Tony Evers and other Democrats ahead of the 2018 midterm elections.
Evers himself met with members of BLOC and took part in what the group calls a "silent canvass."
"The premise is simple: When a BLOC organizer and a politician head out into a neighborhood to go door-to-door, the organizer introduces the politician not by their title, but as their friend, first name only," Wisconsin Public radio explained in a story about the group last August. "The organizer talks to the resident about neighborhood problems and upcoming elections, while the politician — who pledges to stay silent — stands quietly to the side, hearing an unvarnished take on the ups and downs of daily life."
Dozens of Democrats have taken part in these silent canvasses, and nearly every prominent Democrat in the area has met with BLOC officials, including Robinson, since the group was formed two years ago this month. Senator Tammy Baldwin, for instance, sat down with BLOC ambassadors in September for a meeting that Robinson is believed to have attended.
BLOC has not yet commented on Robinson's arrest, and no Democratic leaders who have met with Robinson have yet acknowledged their connection to him.