Well-known Minneapolis artist killed in I-94 crash

- A well-known Minneapolis artist was killed and five other people were injured in a crash along I-94 Monday night. According to the Minnesota State Patrol, just before 6 p.m., a truck traveling westbound on I-94 near Highway 280 crossed the median and struck a station wagon head on, pushing it into an oncoming Metro Transit bus.

The driver of the station wagon, identified as 41-year-old Kirk Washington Jr., was killed in the crash. Washington was a well-known artist, activist and community leader from north Minneapolis, according to the Harrison Neighborhood Association

“Kirk was a powerful voice for the voiceless community in north Minneapolis," Andrea Jenkins, an oral historian at the University of Minnesota who had worked with Washington on several art initiatives across Minnepolis, told Fox 9. 

Conversations with Kirk Washington Jr. from Made Here MN on Vimeo.

Mayor Betsy Hodges was one of many people to express her condolences to Washington’s family on social media Tuesday. Washington had written one of the stanzas for the poem “One Minneapolis: A city in verse”, which was written for Hodges’ inauguration in 2014.

Minneapolis has suffered the loss of a great talent and neighbor today, and my heart is heavy. Kirk Washington was one...

Posted by Betsy Hodges on Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Washington Jr. worked on the digital equity program at the City of Minneapolis IT department. Chief Information Officer Otto Doll released the following statement:

“Kirk saw the digital divide within a broad context of his community engagement work. He spoke about technology as a powerful tool, and how art can transform perspective on a problem. Kirk saw the potential for engaging the community in new ways with technology and he looked at the digital divide with as asset-based approach, by seeing resources within the community as the leverage for change. His vision of digital equity was not to solve disparities by an external force “giving” something like computers or training to a community, but instead through setting a stage for gathering, listening and learning to develop a shared solution. Kirk’s focus on this project was on relationships, and to seek the unknown outcome within the realm of art, civic engagement, technology, and beyond.

“Kirk could speak so eloquently about the digital divide in the context of engagement and equity, that the community and the City's digital inclusion partners would hear him differently than a message coming from the City. Like a translator working to bridge a broader or larger communications gap, Kirk had that ability to connect with the Harrison Neighborhood's residents on an important aspect of 21st century life. His use of the language of life, his words of understanding, will truly be missed.”

The 52-year-old driver who hit Washington was seriously injured in the crash. Four passengers on the bus were also transported to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

The accident marked the was the second fatal crossover crash in this stretch of I-94 in the last year. Department of Transportation officials reported that a median barrier project is expected to begin on the freeway at the end of the summer. 

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