Charmaine Lawson and Communities of Color hold rally highlighting issues of racism and injustice
Even before the Humboldt County Women’s march was reinstated, Charmaine Lawson organized a march after she heard of its cancellation. Lawson is the mother of David Josiah Lawson, a student of color who was murdered on April 15, 2017, while a sophomore at Humboldt State University and whose case is yet solved. In the 21 months since her son’s murder, Lawson has been driving community outreach and organizing events in Humboldt County while living in Southern California.
“It’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day so lets invite people of all backgrounds, creed, religion, sexual orientation,” Lawson said. “Let’s invite everybody out to celebrate and have a wonderful day for a people’s rally.”
Lawson reached out to her Justice For Josiah supporters the day after she heard the cancellation of the women’s march. She spoke with Rene Saucedo, a committee member at Centro del Pueblo, who Lawson said “has done a lot of our talks on race and whats going on on with DJ’s case.” From there, they reached out to the Wiyot Tribe, NAACP and Seven Generation Fund for Indigenous People, all who supported Lawson and are sponsoring the event.
“It was my vision and I said ‘we have to do something’ so lets reach out to other organizations,” Lawson said. “We immediately got responses and a few phone calls later we had an event in a week and a half.”
The original Women’s March in Humboldt County was cancelled on Dec. 28 for being “too white” and amid controversy was back on with new organizers. The cancellation made national headlines while the murder of Josiah Lawson has not. A problem which Jill Larrabee, an organizer for J4J, said is wrong with Humboldt County. During the 21 month anniversary vigil for Josiah on Jan. 15, Larrabee told the crowd of supporters of the open case, “We know it is racially charged, we have to say it especially as a white community.”
“Charmaine has formed a coalition of communities of color in Humboldt County,” Larrabee said. “A rally for justice, justice for Josiah and justice for everyone. Justice denied to one is justice denied to all.”
The past organizers of the Women’s March for Humboldt County cancelled due to a lack of diversity and said they wanted to put more energy in outreach efforts before the International Women’s March in March. Within 10 days Lawson had gained the support of diverse organizations in the community. Lawson said the people’s march on Martin Luther King Jr. Day is to show those outside Humboldt County that although it’s tucked away behind the redwood curtain, when it comes to banding together and preaching against hate the people stand united with one another. Lawson said Josiah’s case is being stalled by the office of Humboldt County District Attorney Maggie Fleming. Lawson said that on Monday they’ll, “focus on what isn’t being done and ask why they are letting a murderer walk the street.”
“No one is going to divide us and we are going to continue to push,” Lawson said. “What’s prolonging my son’s case is what Martin Luther King talked about, injustice, and that is what DJ is getting.”
The People’s Rally and March For Justice: Justice Denied To One Is Justice Denied To All will be held at on Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday Jan. 21 at 10 a.m. at the Humboldt County Courthouse.