donate or subscribe
Follow Us Twitter Facebook

No justice yet for Humboldt State University student David Josiah Lawson

March 4, 2018

by Tina Sampay

Arcata, Calif. – As the months fly by, the commitment of holding vigils every month for Humboldt State University Student David Josiah Lawson has remained.

David Josiah Lawson’s mother, Michelle-Charmaine Lawson, is comforted by people from the community at the vigil she drives 12 hours to Arcata in Humboldt County to attend each month. On the right is Alex Foster, a recent Humboldt State graduate and friend of Josiah. They all appear skeptical of the city’s claims that its agencies are doing all they can to solve Josiah’s murder and hold the killer or killers accountable.

These vigils are a way to remember the life of Lawson that was ended way too soon by an act of violence. They also serve the purpose of keeping a light on the fact that his case remains unsolved and that his killer remains on the loose.

Lawson’s mother makes the 12-hour commute from Southern California every month to Arcata in Humboldt County – a small, rural college town in Northern California.

This vigil marking 10 months held a more somber tone as Ms. Lawson’s tear-streaked face delivered words of pain and disappointment.

“How do you nurture and care for a child and send them off to college and someone decides they are going to take his life? This is not OK. There is someone out there who knows more than what they are saying. Speak up against wrong, because this was wrong. This was so wrong.”

Chair of the local Native-American Wiyot Tribe Ted Hernandez was present and spoke during the vigil. He forbade any recording and shared words and a prayer that he said was specifically for the family.

Arcata Mayor Sofia Pereira was also asked to speak. She mentioned how some are afraid of engaging; however, she will continue to show up. She also answered questions and listened to the hurt and confused community gathered for the vigil.

Some of the conversation centered around the community forums to discuss student safety and updates on Lawson’s case which were requested by his mother in September 2017.

“How do you nurture and care for a child and send them off to college and someone decides they are going to take his life? This is not OK. There is someone out there who knows more than what they are saying. Speak up against wrong, because this was wrong. This was so wrong.”

Although the city agreed to six public sessions, they were abruptly ended after the fourth one turned contentious. Students shared their frustrations with city officials and HSU President Lisa Rossbacher over the structure of the forum and the lack of updates in Lawson’s case.

Although suspect Kyle Zoellner was arrested at the scene, he was released three weeks later after a preliminary hearing when the judge found a lack of evidence.

Over 10 months have now passed and no new suspects or visible progress has been presented in the case. New forensic software, however, has become available to help with DNA analysis. In addition, the reward for information in Lawson’s case has reached $55,000.

Friday, Feb. 16. following the vigil on Arcata’s Plaza, Lawson’s mother met with Arcata City Manager Karen Diemer, Mayor Pereira and members of the Eureka NAACP Legal Redress Committee. A few community members were also present.

“This is the reality for a lot people of what happened. I know a student who saw Josiah before he was attacked and saw three girls jump his girlfriend. She filed a police report, clearly stating that she saw the attack. And for the DA’s office to come back (saying) that it was mutually combative, it made her and the others feel that this is just institutional racism. There is no way we are going to get any justice here,” an NAACP legal redress committee member stated.

Over 10 months have now passed and no new suspects or visible progress has been presented in the case.

In August 2017, Lawson’s mother presented the City Council a petition with over 1,000 signatures and asked the council to put her son on the city’s meeting agenda. She wanted the City Council to discuss concerns of student safety and give updates into her son’s case – a move to improve transparency from APD to local media outlets.

The City Council did not agree to put Lawson on the meeting agenda.

Only after HSU students disrupted the City Council meeting and demanded they listen to the concerns of Lawson’s mother did the city agree to hold six public sessions to discuss issues of student safety and give updates into Lawson’s case.

After four sessions, these meetings were abruptly shut down.

“When you saw that contentiousness at the last D Street meeting, I hope you understand that some of that anger and frustration that the kids are feeling is coming from that alternative narrative that is not the official story: that the police did everything they could, that the city did everything they could. The story that I heard through the grapevine was that the ambulance drove around a few times and did not enter until they were told it was safe. And the only reason they thought it was unsafe was because they were afraid. I think there is a lot to talk about, without even touching the case.”

It was also mentioned at the meeting with Lawson’s mother and city officials that police who responded the night of Lawson’s stabbing keep leaving the department.

Eric Losey, who had just been promoted to detective the night Lawson was killed, has left to “further his education at theology school,” as reported by APD. In addition, Krystle Arminio, who was one of the first police officers to arrive at the scene, left APD recently. Both testified during the preliminary hearing.

“Things don’t look too good because a lot of people are fleeing the scene, it looks like, who had huge responsibilities in handling the case. It doesn’t look like it is being handled the best from the outside looking in,” remarked an HSU graduate and friend of Lawson.

Although the Arcata Police Department and the City of Arcata send out press releases stating they are working to do everything they can, Lawson’s mother, as well as members in the local community, are slowly starting to lose faith in city officials.

“Things don’t look too good because a lot of people are fleeing the scene, it looks like, who had huge responsibilities in handling the case. It doesn’t look like it is being handled the best from the outside looking in,” remarked an HSU graduate and friend of Lawson.

“As much as I have that level of respect for you guys, I am losing respect for you guys,” Ms. Lawson said during the meeting.

Ms. Lawson was visibly upset as she spoke to two women that she says have been protecting APD and the girls that APD failed to apprehend the night of her son’s murder.

“All I know is, yesterday marked 10 months. This is just unacceptable. APD is not doing their job; they are not. I keep coming here every single month and there is nothing, absolutely nothing to report. I keep hearing from you, Karen Diemer, that we are further than we were; that is not true. The press release you guys put out the other day, it was a bunch of crap. I know you have to protect the city, but you guys are covering for APD.”

A few months ago Arcata’s City Council agreed to pay increases for APD. In addition, Todd Dockweiler, APD’s only detective, was promoted recently to lieutenant – in the midst of an unsolved student murder, accusations of incompetence and racism by the department, and the pain and suffering of Lawson’s mother and family.

The City of Arcata has agreed to hold public forums again to discuss issues of racism and student safety in the local community. There has been a date scheduled for March 22, 2018, at the D Street Neighborhood Center, and these meetings are scheduled to continue the fourth Thursday of every month. Ms. Lawson has agreed that to protect the integrity of the case, there will be no more public updates on the investigation.

The city wants to work with local organizations and people of color in the community to outline a framework that will be most effective for all parties – especially students of color who always bear the brunt of sharing the pain of their lived experiences, without seeing much concrete change afterward.

Most recent press release from city of Arcata can be found here: https://lostcoastoutpost.com/2018/feb/7/lawson-case-update-arcata-police-still-awaiting-dn/.

Slauson Girl’s blog, where this story first appeared, describes life through the eyes of Tina Sampay, born and raised in South Central Los Angeles. She has received multiple awards including first place in the Society of Professional Journalists competition for her weekly column, Slauson Girl Speaks. A recent graduate of Humboldt State University with a degree in Critical Race and Gender Studies and a minor in Journalism, she writes about current events, pop culture, racism, Hip-Hop, economics and history. Email her at slausongirl92@gmail.com.

3 thoughts on “No justice yet for Humboldt State University student David Josiah Lawson

  1. MauriceZaiss12

    Interesting article. I agree with your thoughts. My friend advised me a good site – there are presented company reviews that will suit your needs. The best help services are here buyessaywriting

    Reply
  2. zara@brown

    David Josiah Lawson was a meritorious student at Humboldt State University. He was recently killed. Many students and their mother were taken to the streets demanding justice for his death. In such a way the murderers should be speedily prosecuted. Thank you for sharing the news of truth in front of us. By the way, I am an professional writer. Now I am working as a senior writer at a famous writing services company Edubirdy. If you want to know about is edubirdie legit? Then I recommend you for visit our official website and getting more information about us. We are also biggest writers community and we are always waiting to helping your any kind of writing solution. So if anyone are interested to get such kind of writing help from online then you should visit our official site and choose your perfect writers.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

BayView Classifieds - ads, opportunities, announcements




Click and find the
TravelVisaPro.com