Rallied under umbrellas in the pouring rain, Humboldt State University students could be heard shouting “Justice for Josiah” at the top of their lungs in the UC Quad.
On Thursday April 5, HSU students held a rally and walk out in the days leading up to the one-year anniversary of the murder of David Josiah Lawson.
Lawson was murdered at an off-campus party on April 15, 2017, and today his case remains unsolved with no suspect in custody.
“It’s just so sad. He was fucking 19 years old and no one deserves that. No one deserves that,” Daniel Segura, CRGS (critical race gender and sexuality studies) said as a part of the collective of students who hope to bring national attention to Lawson’s case.
“We are really trying to get his name out there and put on a national platform because it’s really for Charmaine (Lawson). That’s really who it’s for.”
Upward of 80 students stood in the rain to listen and ask speakers what they could do to push the case towards justice.
Barbara Singleton, HSU student, reminded students that their power is in numbers and in the energy they bring to these walkouts.
“You didn’t have to know him in order to show up,” Singleton said.
While at on the second floor of the UC Quad with a megaphone in her hand, Singleton asked for students permission to play the song “Justice for Josiah (RIP)” by Oboy Flocka from her iPhone. The crowd said yes unanimously.
After the song was over, Singleton shared her favorite lyric.
“This brother went to college instead of hugging that block, he went to get his knowledge instead of showing them shots. Now he gone. For Josiah man, we gotta play this song.” – “Justice for Josiah (RIP)” by Oboy Flocka.
“If this was one of you guys, I would be doing the same thing,” Singleton said from the megaphone. “The fact of the matter is, he was a student and he was murdered, that could have been one of us, and we would still receive no justice.”
Alex Enyedi, HSU’s Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs, was standing in the Quad listening to students when they asked him how he felt about Lawson’s murder and the lack of safety students feel in their community as a result.
“I believe with all of my heart in Justice for Josiah,” Enyedi said. “There is no reason that any parent should fear of sending their child to university or any school and that they won’t come home.”
“I stand in solidarity,” Enyedi said. “I feel your pain and I understand your frustration.”
Miguel Perez Guzman was one of the many students who dropped what they were doing to stand in solidarity with those affected by Lawson’s death.
“Coming from North East L.A., I understand and am aware of the amount of violence that can exist within a community,” Guzman said.
“At first I didn’t see Josiah’s murder as such a big issue, with all due respect. I thought others would handle it, shit happens all the time back home,” Guzman said. “But when I started to see the whole facts about the case, it angers me.
“Up here it was assault and the police helped facilitate the murderer getting away.” Guzman said.
Creators of the Justice for Josiah movement are using their social media platforms and voices to remind the community to educate themselves on the details of the case.
These advocates for justice have expressed through flyers and pamphlets the many questions that remain unanswered in Lawson’s case.
Questions such as:
“Whose fingerprint were found on the knife? Do they belong to Officer Mckenzie who couldn’t remember if he wore gloves or not when he collected evidence?” and
“When are the Arcata Police Department and University Police along with the Arcata Ambulance going to be held accountable for the delayed medical attention that Josiah received?
According to Singleton, these flyers will continue to be passed out at the Arcata Plaza Farmers Market.
Students will continue bringing attention to Lawson’s case through their “12-days of action.” The 12-days include a multitude of events including a protest on Saturday April 14 which will lead into a vigil the next day.
Singleton reassures community members that the Justice for Josiah movement is a peaceful movement.
“We are not violent, we do not condone any vandalism, any city mark up or any community destroying,” Singleton said.
Every month students and Lawson’s family hold a vigil in Arcata in honor of Lawson. This month, they will be holding a Celebration of Life on April 16 at the D St. Community Center.
Tickets to this event are being sold at the African American Center for Academic Excellence or AACAE in Nelson Hall 206. All proceeds will go toward legal funds for the Lawson family to hire private investigators and lawyers.