Another Black life was senselessly taken earlier this week with signs pointing to the sobering revelation that the death was a result of racism and vigilante violence.
On Nov. 23, a 47-year-old white man named Robert Paul Keegan fatally shot Aidan Ellison, a 19-year-old Black man, in the chest. Ellison was sitting in his car in a Stratford Inn parking lot in Ashland, Oregon, KMVU reports. The two reportedly got into a confrontation about Ellison’s loud music around 4 a.m. that morning.
Keegan was arrested and plead not guilty to charges of second-degree murder, first-degree manslaughter, unlawful possession of a firearm, and reckless endangering on Nov. 27. Keegan is scheduled to appear in court on Feb. 21, 2021, and is being held in the Jackson County Jail without bail.
The shooting raises important conversations in the community, known for its liberal ideals. But as we know, liberalism does not eradicate a racist mindset.
However, Ashland Police dispute that the shooting was a result of racism. Some are attempting to paint Keegan as the victim, pointing to his stay at the hotel resulting from local wildfires that ravaged the area. Local Black Lives Matter activists argue the ends don’t justify the means, even if he was seeking refuge from a wildfire.
“The incident where Aidan was shot after an argument listening to his music was really about him not submitting to that man’s perceived authority,” Precious Edmonds, a spokesperson for the Southern Oregon Black Leaders, Activists, and Community Coalition (SOBLACC) told Oregon Live.
The case is erringly similar to the shooting of Jordan Davis, a Black 17-year-old high school student who was fatally shot on November 23, 2012, at a gas station in Jacksonville, Florida, by Michael David Dunn, a white, 45-year-old man.
Ellison’s death is gaining traction on social media with prominent voices in social justice and activism calling for justice in his name.
#AidanEllison should be alive today but Robert Keegan fatally shot him over “loud music” — BUT this was NOT about music. That’s false justification for killing a Black teen! This was a racially motivated shooting by a suspected white supremacist!! #JusticeForAidanEllison,” civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump tweeted on Sunday.
“While I could never presume to speak for Aidan, his family or community, I can speak as a member of the white bodied community in saying it is past time we take stock of systemic racism which continues to cause the death of our brothers and sisters of color,” Ashland Mayor-elect Julie Akins wrote on NextDoor, later published on The Ashland Chronicle.
“Racism is a fact of white privilege. I call on our community to consider our role in continuing this privilege. Let’s not only come together when another beautiful life has been taken. Let’s do the work, the hard work, the soul searching work every day,” she continued.
Supporters of Ellison began a GoFundMe fundraiser to help his mother. Ellison’s community continues to rally around his family. Those who wanted to celebrate his memory held a candlelight vigil on Thanksgiving in the Stratford Inn parking lot.