Community members, family, and friends of Robert Delgado gathered in Southeast Portland’s Lents Park Friday evening to remember Delgado, who was shot and killed by a police officer in the park one week ago.
“This is pretty overwhelming to see everybody show up and give support,” Kirkpatrick Fries, Delgado’s brother, told the Mercury. “He was a great guy. He loved his family. And he’d be happy to see this.”
During the two-hour vigil, a crowd of over 100 people gathered near the park’s baseball field, where a Portland Police Bureau (PPB) officer shot Delgado last week after allegedly seeing him holding what appeared to be a gun. (PPB later said a replica handgun was recovered at the scene.) Classic rock music played from a car parked on the grass, and the community organization PDX Saints served food and handed out blankets to people who needed them. The fence by the baseball field has been decorated with flowers and signs in the week since Delgado’s death, and a circle of candles was set up for the vigil.
After observing a moment of silence, Delgado’s family members spoke about their grief, and shared memories of him. They also played audio from a video Delgado took at the Oregon coast.
At the vigil for Robert Delgado tonight in Lents Park, Delgado’s family played audio from a recording Delgado took while staying at the Oregon Coast. “My family and my friends, I love you all. Life’s a trip, let’s be good to one another,” he says in the audio. pic.twitter.com/5ZxIGXfYRP
— Blair Stenvick (@BlairStenvick) April 24, 2021
“Let’s all be good to one another,” Delgado says at the end of the audio clip. “Stay kind. Try to be thoughtful and help each other out. And I love you all. Bobby out.”
Many vigil attendees wore t-shirts with Delgado’s likeness on the front, and that quote printed on the back.
Four of Delgado’s children spoke at the vigil, describing a father who, though he wasn’t always able to spend time with them in person, was deeply loving and called them often.
“I just want you all to know he was a good man… He had a lot of heart in him, and he loved a lot.”
“My father would always express how much he loved each and every one of us,” said River, Delgado’s son. “He would call us and talk to us—I can’t really speak right now, but I just want you to know we all love him. There’s a lot of sadness and anger in my heart.”
“I didn’t know my grandfather growing up,” he added. “I’d have to hear from my father, stories and memories of him. Now I know that I will have to do that with my daughter. And he was looking forward to being with her and me.”
“My dad, he always loved being the center of attention,” joked Skyler, Delgado’s other son, as family members laughed. “He would’ve loved seeing everyone here.”
Kennedy Garrett, one of Delgado’s daughters, described him as “a free spirit,” “the life of the party,” and “that guy [who] comes up in conversation, [and] everyone has a story about him.”
“He was a comedian, but he was also a very spiritual person, and he always wanted to express that to people,” she said. He had a lot of tragedies that he went through, but he was so strong regardless, and he found something to laugh about.”
Delgado’s sister Tina Delgado also spoke, saying she wanted to see PPB “held accountable” for her brother’s death. At a press conference held earlier Friday, the family called for a special prosecutor to investigate Delgado’s death.
“This could’ve been handled in a different way,” she said. “It could’ve been prevented.”