Arcata, CA–Students at Humboldt State University held a rally and walkout today for HSU student David Josiah Lawson, who died after suffering multiple stab wounds at an off-campus party last year in April.
April 15, 2018, will mark one-year since Lawson was killed. Currently, no one is in custody for his death.
Although a suspect who admitted to being in a physical altercation with Lawson was arrested at the scene, he was released three weeks later. The Judge ruled there was insufficient evidence to hold him for trial.
This ruling came as a shock to students–who took to the streets in protest of what many believed was racial bias because Lawson is Black and the accused is white.
Every month in Arcata a vigil is held in honor of Lawson, to keep a light on the fact that his killer remains free–while Lawson’s family and students of color seemingly wear the weight of the injustice on their shoulders.
Yesterday, students locked arms around the administration building with tape over their mouths and demands listed around their necks. Demands which included that HSU assist with setting up a legal fund to assist the Lawson family and for the District Attorney to request for the Attorney General to become involved in the case.
Students have planned 12 days of action leading up to the one-year vigil of Lawson’s death on April 15th. They are hoping that their demonstrations will bring national attention to the unsolved murder of Lawson, as well as the 2001 unsolved murder of HSU student Corey Clark.
Flo, who is a second-year International Business Major at HSU participated in the walkout. She said that as someone who is apart of Associated Students, she understands the importance of amplifying student voices.
“We are supposed to be a platform for the students and I feel this is wrong. If that were to happen to me, my mother wouldn’t be able to sleep. I think for the mother and for our community we need to know that we can be safe,” she said.
“As a Brown community member, I don’t want someone who wants to come here to be scared, because you shouldn’t have to be scared to get an education.”
Students from HSU also went to the state’s capital in Sacramento yesterday to participate in a national day of protest against budget cuts and possible tuiton increases in the Cal State University system.
Second-year Elementary Education major Desha, said that she participated in the walkout because she wants to see justice for Josiah and justice for his family.
“It’s been almost a year and no actions have been taken in order to seek justice. This school has done nothing and neither has Arcata Police Department. We need to feel safe, students do not feel safe.”
She was also one of the students who traveled to Sacramento yesterday to participate in the CSU protest. Budget cuts were not the only thing on her mind however.
“On my signs I wrote, HSU students demand Justice For Josiah. The purpose of that was we wanted other people outside of Humboldt County to be aware of the injustice–such as Black Lives Matter and other organizations.”