Charmaine Lawson speaks at Arcata City Hall. Photo by Surya Gopalan.

Upset mothers march to Arcata City Hall


Angry mothers, students and community members all marched in solidarity with Charmaine Lawson from Humboldt State’s Library Circle to Arcata City Hall demanding Justice for Josiah on April 18.

Just a few days after the one-year anniversary of the death of HSU student David Josiah Lawson, who was fatally stabbed at an off-campus party on April 15, 2017, people are impatient for answers.

“We demand justice for Josiah and we want Tom Parker back,” Charmaine Lawson said.

Tom Parker is a retired FBI agent who was brought up to privately inspect the case for the last eight months. He resigned last week.

The march made its way from HSU to City Hall through F Street. The city council was meeting that day and the shock could be seen on their faces when up to 100 people marched into the hall chanting, “Justice for Josiah!”

The mayor of Arcata, Sofia Perreira, was in attendance, as well as city council members Brett Watson, Paul Pitino and Michael Winkler.

The forum opened up for members of the public to address the board and a line started to form.

“There is a killer on the loose and if I feel unsafe as an old white lady, how are these students of color supposed to feel safe?” Arcata resident Denny Dorsett said.

As many other people came up to speak their minds, the energy in the room began to grow more charged.

“I grew up in this place and I don’t feel safe anymore. Why are you not trying to protect me?” Faith Shaineider, an Arcata High School student who came to show her support said.

Shaineder’s mother, Zera Starchild, was also in attendance and had some heavy words to deliver.

“This town has already changed because of this,” Starchild said. “Arcata will never be the same again.”

While many brought up concern for their own safety, others brought up different reasons justice needs to be served.

Leslie Rodelander is a grant analyst at the Sponsored Programs Foundation at HSU.

“If compassion doesn’t move you, hopefully economics will,” Rodelander said. “I see the sheets, and the number of students coming to HSU is dropping and will continue to drop if this does not get fixed.”

After every other person spoke their mind, it was Charmaine Lawson’s turn. Mayor Perreira did not impose a time restriction on Charmaine Lawson as she had on everybody else, so she was able to deliver a powerful message.

“I demand Tom Parker back. Call him in the morning Sofia,” Charmaine Lawson said. “If the roles were reversed, I know my son would be sentenced already. I need to know what happened to my son!”

Cheers and applause could be heard around as people shared their support.

After hearing from everybody who wanted to speak, Mayor Perreira motioned for a 10-minute recess, during which she approached certain members of the audience. In a strange turn of events, Perreira returned from the recess and adjourned the meeting. People tried to figure out why, but were given no answers.

It has been over a year since Charmaine Lawson lost her son and the case is still wide open.


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One Comment

  1. Delores Jones Delores Jones Monday, April 23, 2018

    I admire all of you for standing with Charmaine Lawson, I’m a native of Eureka Ca and worked at HSU for 11 years , that was 28 years ago, It’s time to face reality and do the right thing. Much has not change when it comes diversity. Sacramento, Ca

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