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Tribute held for minorities who were victims of violence

The Clarion Call report
Clarion University

On Thursday, Nov. 29, at 5 p.m., a candlelight tribute was held for minorities who were victims of violence. The tribute was held at the Gemmell Performance Center, which is the brick area located outside of the Gemmell Student Complex. It was sponsored by Minority Student Services.

The tribute began inside of Gemmell, on the second floor. At 5 p.m., all who were in attendance moved outside to the performance area. Dr. Elizabeth Dale-Pehrsson, the university president, opened the tribute by thanking the attendees for being there. She then said that it is important to say the names of the victims to remember and honor them, their lives, their efforts and their deaths.

Students who were participating in the tribute stepped up and read the names of the victims. The students went up one at a time, and each one read only one name. Some information about what happened before and after each victim’s death was also read by the students.

The first name to be read was Trayvon Martin. Trayvon Martin was a 17-year-old African American high school student who, on the night of Feb. 26, 2012, was shot and killed by George Zimmerman, a 28-year-old mixed race Hispanic man in Sanford, Florida. Zimmerman was the neighborhood watch coordinator for the gated community he lived in. Martin was visiting relatives in this community when he was shot. Zimmerman was charged with murder and acquitted on the grounds of self-defense. No further charges were filed due to insufficient evidence.

Second was Ricardo Diaz Zeferino, who, on June 2, 2013, was shot and killed by three police officers in Gardena, California while looking for his brother’s stolen bicycle. Los Angeles county prosecutors declined to file charges against the officers. However, Zeferino’s family received $4.7 million in a lawsuit settlement against the city of Gardena.

After that was Oscar Alberto Ramirez Jr., a 28-year-old Latino, who was shot and killed on Oct. 27, 2014, by a Los Angeles sheriff’s deputy. On Dec. 19, 2014, Ramirez’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the county of Los Angeles.

The eighth name to be read was Eric Harris. 44-year-old Harris was shot and killed by Officer Robert Charles Bates during an undercover sting in Tulsa, Oklahoma on April 2, 2015. Harris was shot when he ran away. On April 15, 2015, Bates turned himself in and was charged with second degree manslaughter. On April 28, 2016, Bates was sentenced to four years in prison. He was released in October of 2017. In March of 2018, Tulsa County agreed to pay Harris’ family $6 million as a settlement of a federal lawsuit.

Next was Tony Robinson. Robinson was a 19-year-old African American man who was shot and killed by police officer Matthew Kenny in Madison, Wisconsin on March 6, 2015. Kenny was responding to reports that Robinson was jumping in front of cars and had attempted to strangle someone. On May 12, 2015, the Dane County District Attorney determined that the shooting was in self-defense. In February of 2017, the Robinson family was given $3.35 million by the city of Madison to settle a civil rights lawsuit.

One of the last names to be read was Philando Castile. Castile was a 32-year-old black man who was shot and killed by Officer Jeronimo Yanez after he was pulled over in Falcon Heights, Minnesota, on July 6, 2016. On November 16, 2016, the Ramsey County Attorney said that Yanez was being charged with second degree manslaughter and two counts of dangerous discharge of a firearm. Yanez was acquitted of all charges and was fired on June 16, 2017.

After all the names were read, the organizers of the tribute passed out electronic candles. There was then a moment of silence, in which the candles were held up and the names were repeated.

Dr. Dale-Pehrsson ended the tribute by saying, “Thank you all, and thank you for caring.”

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