The murders of Philando Castile and George Floyd open the nation’s eyes and unsettled many people’s conscious to police abuse and misconduct here in Minnesota, where shouts for defund the police and criminal justice reform are shouted in waves of defiance yet showing little or no application of rural progress.
I’ve tried to fight for my position from behind the walls of injustice. I have become the answer to Langston Hughes’ question: what becomes of a dream deferred? Once known as the young man with limitless potential to succeed, as I graduated from Chicago Vocational High School and got recruited to attend the University of Minnesota, Morris on a full scholarship, I stood out as one of 31 finalists to receive the Future Leaders of Chicago award, being the battalion commander in the Army JROTC program, being an all-state wrestler, and being an academic scholar.
But none of that had meaning as I was stripped of my name and humanity and reduced to a number: Minnesota inmate number 210006. I was then forced to live in a cell due to being found guilty of a crime I did not commit. Sadly, I have sat in this cell the past nine years filling the devastating effects of systemic racism and legal injustice. I refused a plea bargain, opting to go to trial because I knew I was innocent, and I wanted to see justice work for an innocent black man in America. I was charged and later convicted of a kidnapping and rape of an adult woman that never occurred.
In the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis, I was issued a predominantly white-seated jurors, with one black man, to decide my fate, so I didn’t start with a jury of my peers. Most alarming in my case was the level of admitted police misconduct and negligence.
The Minneapolis Police Sergeant investigating my case for prosecution admitted in trial testimony that in spite of knowing he was investigating a sex crime, he failed to look for any sort of biological specimens: blood, DNA, or fingerprints, to corroborate that a sexual assault took place and my vehicle is alleged.
He noted that he made several mistakes investigating my case, failing to collect evidence was one, and then oversight because he forgot to include it on his search warrant. But it’s a simple mistake he made in this one case, he claims, but there was no evidence ever to support that a sexual assault took place in the back of my vehicle.
Beyond that, there are a host of other issues in my case, like the presence of a surveillance video that doesn’t show or corroborate a kidnapping take place, or the testimony of the alleged victim’s account. I have filed a number of appeals just to be denied relief by the Minnesota Appellate Courts, even in the face of them recognizing that my principal brief was very well-supported.
I’ve never understood how a brief can be well-supported and not receive any relief. So it’s been an uphill battle and struggle to attain justice and clear my name. I am continuing my fight in spite of the odds against me. And in Minnesota, it is difficult for any African-American person to show the courts that they didn’t commit a crime and be taken seriously, especially you become a threat when they figure out that you have any sort of intelligence.
And that’s been one of my crutches, that I have a certain amount of intellect and I’m not an attorney. Therefore, the courts are willing to hear my arguments as much as they would if I had an attorney representing me. So therefore, if you’re listening to this and you can offer any support or legal help, um, you definitely can reach out to me.
My name is Izell Robinson, number 210006. And I can be emailed through the JPay app or the website. Or I can be mailed directly through snail mail. My mailing address is Izell Robinson, number 210006, 7600 525th Street, Rush City Correctional Facility, Rush City, Minnesota 55069. Thank you.
These commentaries are recorded by Prison Radio.