September 15, 2017, marked five months since David Josiah Lawson was stabbed at an off-campus party Easter weekend. He passed due to his injuries at just 19 years old.
Every month since Lawson’s murder there have been vigils held on Arcata’s Plaza.
The vigils are important not only to remember a young life that was ended too soon but to keep community awareness around the issue that Lawson’s murder remains unsolved (but is still open and under investigation).
Charmaine Lawson and her family rented a 15 passenger van and made the 12-hour commute from Riverside to Humboldt County this past weekend to be present for this months vigil.
However, instead of a vigil, Ms. Lawson and her family wanted to have a celebration of life for Lawson. They worked with the city of Arcata as well as the African American Center for Academic Excellence at Humboldt State University to bring their vision to fruition.
Although Ms. Lawson lost her son in such a tragic way she has found the strength to support a community that has supported her during this tough time.
Many in the Arcata community gathered at the Neighborhood Center on D street Friday with the Lawson family and truly celebrated Lawson’s life. Free food and music flowed throughout the center as groups and children danced on the gymnasium floor.
The event was a chance for the community to really gain an understanding of Lawson and his family. A beautiful slideshow played on a huge projector screen displaying various pictures of Lawson from birth to present, which was honestly sad to watch at times to see how a young promising life could be cut down so soon with such lax response from the Humboldt County justice system.
A slideshow played on a huge projector screen displaying various pictures of Lawson from birth to present, which was honestly sad to watch at times to see how a promising, young life could be cut down so soon with such lax response from the Humboldt County justice system.
At one point Lawson’s mother and family members addressed the audience on a microphone.
“Today marks five months since I lost my son,” Ms. Lawson said. “I wanted to just celebrate DJ’s life–the fun, energetic person that he was.”
“It is difficult for us to be here because we live 12 hours away, but I will continue to be here until I get justice for my son.”
She took a moment to thank the community and HSU students for their continuous support, as well as turning to her family and expressing her gratitude for them always accompanying her to Humboldt County.
“I just wanted to do something special because I know that’s what DJ would want.”
The event also included live music from a local reggae artist. Donations were collected and all proceeds will be donated to a local homeless shelter, which was one of the causes that Lawson was concerned about.