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David Josiah Lawson Remembered


Two students stood alone in the middle of the Arcata Plaza in the pelting rain, redirecting mourners. Due to the weather, the vigil and memorial for David Josiah Lawson, a Humboldt State University student who was killed on April 15, 2017, was moved to the D Street Neighborhood Center near campus. By the time Charmaine Lawson, David Josiah's mother, took the microphone, the room was filled beyond capacity, with hundreds of people sitting at the long tables, squatting in the aisles and standing, backed up to the room's double doors. Outside, the HSU Marching Lumberjacks practiced in the rain, the muffled sound of the tuba precipitating Charmaine Lawson's words. Fitting for a celebration of life, the crowd was jovial, exchanging hugs and hellos as children played in a bounce house erected inside. Lawson and Lorna Bryant, who emceed the proceedings, had to shout for quiet. Charmaine Lawson began by saying hello, then pausing to lean her head back as though to still a sob. One year ago today she was sleeping downstairs on the couch at home when she received a call from her eldest son's cell phone. It was 3:27 a.m., and one of DJ's friends had called to say he had been stabbed and was at the Mad River Hospital. "Today is a day we are celebrating his life but I wish we didn't have to," she said. She described the anxiety of that night as she made phone calls to the hospital and to her sister, trying to get to her son. When she recounted the moment she learned her son had died from his wounds, she stopped and buckled forward, her voice becoming a wail. Her daughter and cousin, next to her on the stage, grasped her shoulders in support. But Lawson regained her strength as she talked about her son's many accomplishments, the first of her three children to enroll in college. "We are still proud of DJ Lawson," she said. The audience applauded. She then shared with the audience why she continued to travel back to Humboldt County each month, giving her love and appreciation to the students at HSU and College of the Redwoods, as well as various community members and city staff. "Humboldt County, I thank you," she said. "I appreciate you for being with me for the last year." She also expressed…

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