By Reza Sadeghzadeh and Curran C. Daly
The Arcata Police Department is still investigating the homicide of Josiah Lawson, five months after his death. Charmaine Lawson, Josiah’s mom, has remained an ever constant presence in Humboldt County while living 14 hours away
She is currently planning on a fundraiser to open a house for homeless students and community members that she calls, “Josiah Lawson’s house.” Citing Josiah’s desire to help reduce homelessness in Arcata.
“I wanted to just celebrate DJ’s life,” Charmaine Lawson said. “The fun, energetic person that he was.”
Charmaine Lawson revealed her fundraising efforts at a five month memorial for Josiah.
One of the main topics of discussion by those who attended the event was restoring the relationship between the community, the university and students. Especially students of color.
Barbara Singleton, Sophomore Criminology & Justice major, is the President of the Black Student Union. Singleton is concerned about security in the community.
Lawson told Singleton to be patient waiting to get justice for Josiah’s case. Lawson said she will not give up on his case.
“I have to fight for him because he cannot fight for himself, I have to make sure he receives justice,” Singleton said. “If it would have been anyone of us he would have done the same thing.”
DaMon Thomas, Senior Communications Major, stressed the need for a more accepting community around Humboldt State.
“The Humboldt State University diversity is growing, but the community is not keeping up,” Thomas said. “There needs to be more awareness, acknowledgement and cooperation.”
The messages echoed by Josiah’s family and Kenya James, the president of the local NAACP, did not follow on empty ears. The event was attended by City and University officials including Arcata City Council member Sofia Pereira and Humboldt State Provost Alex Enyedi.
Enyedi and Pereira emphasized some of the ongoing programs that are helping the community and university to achieve that equality in the community. Such programs are GARE (Government Alliance on Race & Equity) and NIOT (Not In Our Town) that are focused on issues of inequality in housing, hiring practices, customer service and first responders.
The fight is not over. The students and the community have promised Lawson an endeavoring effort to bring justice for Josiah.
“Josiah’s House is a great wonderful idea to persevere his legacy and help homeless students” said Corliss P. Bennett, Director of Cultural Centers for Academic Excellence. “Students of color can’t find housing, and not because they don’t have money, but because landlords don’t rent to African American students.”
James said “this horrendous tragedy has been extremely hard on Lawson’s family, but she has proven to be tremendously strong and courageous due to the fact that she has turned this tragic incident into an opportunity to give back to the community.