Memorial celebrates life of Desmond Phillips


David Phillips spoke about the need for better police training when responding to the mentally ill Photo credit: Josh Cozine

One year after the death of a local Chico man, Desmond Phillips, family, friends and community members gathered to celebrate his life. Those gathered also remembered the incident leading to his death, and vocalized their continued efforts to increase police accountability.

Barbeque was provided for guests at the one year memorial for Desmond Phillips. Photo credit: Josh Cozine

Desmond Phillips was 25 at the time of his death last year when Chico police arrived at his family’s home in response to a threat call about Phillips and fatally shot him.This event was meant as a celebration of his life and a time to discuss the issue of shootings by police.

The celebration took place at the Chico Women’s Club from 2-4 p.m. and included musical performances, spoken word pieces, and talks from Desmond’s father, David Phillips, Scott Rushing―father to Tyler Rushing, who was shot by Chico Police after being shot by a private security guard―and others whose loved ones died in police shootings. Barbeque with plenty of vegan options was served, with donations appreciated but not required.

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Crowds gathered to standing room only at a memorial for Desmond Phillips Photo credit: Josh Cozine

“I had to witness my son,” David Phillips said before taking a deep breath, “Y’all I had to witness my son being murdered, and today makes a year…But you know I’m happy today because I know, I know damn well that I’m not gonna stop this fight. I will never stop this fight.”

Scott Rushing said that police need better de-escalation training. “Desmond needed help, he didn’t need bullets; Tyler needed help, he didn’t need bullets.” said Rushing.

Several musical guests, as well as spoken word performers, shared pieces dedicated to Phillips, and a struggle for police accountability.

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Himp C performed a spoken word piece he wrote as a memorial to Desmond Phillips Photo credit: Josh Cozine

“I love it, all the support from the community,” said David Phillips. “We’re all supporting each other, and we’re looking for some huge changes here in Butte County.”

Josh Cozine can be reached at [email protected] or @joshcozine on Twitter.