Atlanta to honor amputee who rolled his wheelchair to Chicago to draw attention to gun violence

By David Pendered

The Atlanta City Council on Monday is slated to honor an Atlanta native who propelled himself in a wheelchair from Atlanta to Chicago to draw attention to gun violence. The man’s legs were amputated after he was wounded in a shotgun attack in what was then a crime infested public housing complex.

vincent robinson at bankhead courts

Vincent Robinson, Sr. poses in front of Bankhead Courts, where he resided and suffered a shotgun blast that resulted in the amputation of both legs. Credit: thewebbuilder.com

“Please join us at Atlanta City Hall (June 19 at 12 o’clock) for a special reception and proclamation,” is the simple and eloquent message Vincent Robinson, Sr. posted on his Twitter page.

Robinson’s story begins like so many and transitions like so few.

Robinson grew up living a gangster lifestyle in the Bankhead Courts housing project. This complex was the site of Atlanta’s cases of missing and murdered children, in 1981, for which Wayne Williams was convicted of two killings and sentenced to two life sentences. The complex has since been demolished.

Here’s how Robinson’s website describes events leading up to the shooting:

  • “Vincent A. Robinson sr. was born August 18, 1972 in Bankhead Courts, apartments in Atlanta, Georgia. Bankhead Courts at the time was notorious for pimps, prostitutes, gangsters, drug dealers and persons of ill repute.
  • “Vincent had no role models and was influenced by his environment. He purchased a New Cadillac at 13 from drug profits. His life choices lead him to a personal tragedy. he was shot point blank with a street sweeper shotgun.
  • “The resulting blast reduced both legs to a mass of jelly causing him to be a double amputee. But then GOD entered his life.”
street sweeper shotgun

A ‘street sweeper shotgun’ of the type Vincent Robinson, Sr. said was used by his attacker. Credit: thewebbuilder.com

Robinson was shot twice in the groin by shotgun blasts in late 1992, according to a report on thetrace.org. Robinson lapsed into a persistent vegetative state and awoke in January 1993 to discover his legs had been amputated. Gangrene infection had occurred and doctors removed the legs.

Here’s how the incident is described in the proclamation introduced by Atlanta City Councilmember Michael Julian Bond:

  • “Whereas, On November 6, 1992, Vincent Robinson was shot at the age of 20 in Atlanta. The shooting kept him in a coma until January 1993.  During that time, he developed a gangrene infection and, as a result, his legs were amputated….”

Robinson told his story in a book available through amazon.com. Titled, How the Streets Changed Me and Almost Took My Life, the book has notched seven reviews, all of them five stars.

The book was published in 2014. Two years later, Robinson propelled his wheelchair to Chicago via U.S. 41, accompanied only by a relative in a rented van. The journey started at the Georgia Capitol and ended at St. Sabina Church, in Chicago, according to a report on abc7chicago.com.

The city’s proclamation continues:

vincent robinson on abc7chicago

Vincent Robinson, Sr. describes his journey during an interview conducted Nov. 28, 2016 on the set of the ABC affiliate in Chicago. Credit: abc7chicago.com

  • “Whereas, For 61 days, Robinson, a survivor confined to wheelchair, embarked on this arm-powered mission to remind people that violence affects everyone. ‘My goal is to gain the attention, of not only the people of Chicago, but the people all over the world to let them know they need to stop the violence everywhere,’ says Robinson. ‘For every rotation my tires make, for every push I push, it’s for a life that has been affected by violence….’”

For 55 of Robinson’s 61 days on the road, he was joined by passersby who would take photos, walk beside him, or pay for his food and accommodations, according to the paper.

The proclamation concludes:

vincent robinson, invitation

The invitation to Vincent Robinson Sr.’s recognition event at Atlanta City Hall. Credit: @vincentspeaks

  • Whereas, For 61 days, Robinson, a survivor confined to wheelchair, embarked on this arm-powered mission to remind people that violence affects everyone. ‘My goal is to gain the attention, of not only the people of Chicago, but the people all over the world to let them know they need to stop the violence everywhere,’ says Robinson. ‘For every rotation my tires make, for every push I push, it’s for a life that has been affected by violence’; and
  • Whereas, Robinson began his trek September 27th on U.S. Route 41 and ended on the South Side of Chicago November 26th. Robinson refused to let a six-day hospital stay deter this extraordinary journey. ‘I just had to complete this mission God sent me on,’ Robinson said. ‘This is not about me.’ Fighting through his recovery and pushing against the wind, Robinson traveled between 10-15 miles a day chronicling his journey on Facebook and picking up many supporters along way. For 55 days, many people stopped to take pictures, walk alongside him or paid for his food and hotel accommodations; and
  • Whereas, Robinson believes his journey and his story will make a difference. ‘I’m hoping that this can pull us together and we can unite and become strong, and embrace that love that we were born with,” he says. Love is exactly what Robinson experienced on his journey.”

 

 

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow. David was born in Pennsylvania, grew up in North Carolina and is married to a fifth-generation Atlantan.

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