Rep. Isaac Robinson, longtime Detroit organizer, dies of suspected COVID-19 complications

March 29, 2020, 10:04 PM by  Violet Ikonomova

Isaac Robinson was 44.

State Rep. Isaac Robinson, a Democrat of Detroit, died of a suspected case of coronavirus Sunday after being transported to the hospital with breathing issues, his family confirms. He was 44.

Robinson exhibited coronavirus-like symptoms in the days preceding his death but did not seek testing, his father, Roger Robinson, tells Deadline Detroit. Crain’s reports he died several hours after arriving at the hospital.

The long-time labor and political organizer was elected to represent Michigan’s 4th district in 2018 after his mother, Rose Mary Robinson, vacated the seat due to term limits.

“He stood up for folks and spent most of his time caring for others and very little time caring for himself. And that's all he basically did,” said Roger Robinson. "He spent lots of his years fighting some battles and occasionally winning."

Two weeks before his death, as the coronavirus began to spread in Michigan, Robinson hosted a press conference to push for legislation to put a moratorium on evictions, foreclosures and utility shut-offs.

He grew up in his district, near 12th Street and Grand River, and went to Renaissance High School, where he was co-captain of the basketball team and a “relatively gifted athlete,” according to his father. He gave the commencement address when he graduated from law school at the University of Chicago.

In the state Legislature, Robinson was close with Rep. Tyrone Carter, who last week tested positive for  COVID-19.

“He was my guy,” Carter told the Michigan Advance, calling Robinson “young, smart and funny.”

At least 132 people in the state have died of coronavirus, with 35 of them in Detroit.

“It brings it home,” said Roger Robinson. “But the virus will work its will. A lot more people are going to be sacrificed by the inadequacies of a capitalist healthcare system that’s organized to help people who have money. And in Detroit, we'll be more victimized because there's humble poor people.”

Condolences came in from across the political sphere Sunday night.

Robinson (center) leads a protest against U.S. Ecology's proposed expansion in Detroit in late 2018. (Photo: Violet Ikonomova)

“Rep. Isaac Robinson had a huge heart, a quick wit, and a genuine passion for the people,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said in a statement. “He was a fierce advocate for Detroiters and people across Southeast Michigan. He dedicated his career to ensuring justice and security for those he served, and the impact he had on his community will continue to be felt for years to come.”

"Representative Isaac Robinson fought passionately for the issues he believed in and for those in our community who needed a strong advocate like him,” Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said in a statement. “His passing is a devastating loss to our community and another reminder of how we all need to do our part to protect ourselves and each other in these difficult times."

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