Watts, CA–A celebration of life was held for Dijon Kizzee yesteday at Ted Watkins Park in Watts. Kizzee, who would have turned 30-years-old yesterday, was gunned down by the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department after he was stopped for “code violations” related to riding his bike.
Kizzee was not engaged in any crimes at the time he was stopped by police.
The celebration for Kizzee was held by his girlfriend, along with Say Their Names L.A, a protest and support group formed after BLM protests in Los Angeles last summer. In October of last year, Say Their Names held a vigil honoring the lives of those who have been killed at the hands of police in Los Angeles.
They created 626 tombstones and held a vigil inviting the families of shooting victims to speak.
“After that, it became evident that we want to be there for the families. That’s where we started. Listening to what they want. We as protesters usually make a protest and invite them, but what do they actually want? How do they want us as a community to show up for them,” said Laura Peterson of Say Their Names L.A. “Ewing said she wanted a birthday party, so we said we are going to put a birthday party together,”
Peterson says that families have also asked for their help with events such as passing out food to the homeless, to honor the memory of their loved one who was taken at the hands of police.
Kitchen Riot was also in attendance, serving free food including ribs, brisket and macaroni salad. Mobile DJ Roll Up Radio provided music from the bed of their truck, helping to highlight and honor a life that was cut short by state sanctioned violence. Kizzee’s girlfriend, Jonnetta Ewing, says she appreciates protest groups like Say Their Names L.A, who have provided support for her during her time of grieving.
Since Kizzee’s death by police, former Los Angeles District Attorney Jackie Lacey has been voted out and replaced by former San Francisco D.A George Gascon. Lacey, L.A’s first, Black District Attorney, received tremendous public pressure and backlash for her failure to prosecute police shootings. Gascon, although implementing reforms that Black Lives Matter protesters pushed for, is now receiving pushback from police unions as well as those within the L.A’s District Attorney office.
“He liked to have a good time and he liked to dance. He was very friendly. Everyone was his family. I used to tell him that all the time because he called everyone his cousin, so I never knew who really was his cousin,” said Ewing, laughing as she reminisced. “He has a few things going on in honor of his birthday, this is not the only thing.”
Ewing says that she absolutely loves Laura, her mother and the other protesters who have supported her during such a difficult time–as she deals with the sudden loss of Kizzee at the hands of police.
“I appreciate them so much for helping me. They have really been my strength. That’s who have been keeping me strong, the protesters. If I was not doing this, I would be at home crying.”