Arcata, CA–Wednesday will mark 16-months since David Josiah Lawson was killed at a house party in Arcata. Lawson, a 19-year-old sophomore at Humboldt State University, was stabbed multiple times and died from his injuries. Lawson’s death has seemingly divided the small college town due to a lack of justice and the fact that the suspect who was arrested at the scene of the crime was white & Lawson is Black.
After five days of preliminary hearings and over ten witness testimonies, the suspect was released due to what the judge cited as a lack of evidence.
Countless vigils, marches and protest along with the abrupt resignation of Arcata’s Police Chief and FBI investigator Tom Parker terminating his contract with the city of Arcata–has led to no resolution and more questions than answers.
Now, one week before class is scheduled to begin, HSU’s interim Dean of Students sent an email to members of the cultural clubs Legacy and Brother’s United, informing them that their member rosters from the year 2014-2018 will be sent per request, to APD.
“APD has asked for student organization rosters related to Legacy & Brother’s United. The rosters that will be released are considered directory information and are releasable under the Federal Rights & Privacy Act. The purpose of the roster request is to contact members who may have been valuable witnesses to the events that led up to the killing of David Josiah Lawson.”
The email warns students that they may be contacted by APD and that HSU will release the rosters Monday, August 20, 2018. The same day Fall semester begins. Some students say they feel that the two Black clubs are being singled out.
It is important to note that since Lawson’s death there have been two HSU graduations. This means that students who are not in these student-clubs and may be valuable witnesses, most likely have left the area.
When Parker terminated his contract with the city he cited a lack of cooperation and direction in the case from those leading the investigation.
According to interim Police Chief Richard Ehle, the Police Department has expanded the investigation by hiring a special investigator who was scheduled to start working on the case last month.
“Additionally, there is a pending study of this matter by the Police Foundation, which should begin in early August and take several months to complete. There is a complete investigative review being conducted by an outside expert hired by the City,” Ehle writes in an email in July.
From day one supporters of Lawson and his family have requested a review of APD’s actions the night Lawson was killed. There were investigative mistakes the city and APD have admitted to, which include not properly securing the crime scene and allowing the suspects car to be driven away from the scene of the crime.