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Campus vigil for three dead in Indiana

Students gathered in the JRC for a vigil in support of three students killed in Indiana. Photo by John Brady.
Students gathered in the JRC for a vigil in support of three students killed in Indiana. Photo by John Brady.
Students gathered in the JRC for a vigil in support of three students killed in Indiana. Photo by John Brady.

 Yishi Liang,  Editor-in-Chief

Police are currently investigating the shooting of Mohamedtaha Omar, 23, Adam Kamel Mekki, 20, and Muhannad Adam Tairab, 17, in Fort Wayne, Ind. According to The Washington Post, the three men were shot “execution style” in late February. Grinnell’s African and Caribbean Student Union (ACSU) held a vigil for the victims on Tuesday, March 8, in JRC Lobby.

The victims were all members of Fort Wayne’s diaspora community from the eastern Sahali region in Africa. They were found in a single home and their deaths have been ruled a homicide. Some reports say that the three were Muslim, but according to the Associated Press, Omar and Tairab were Muslim and Mekki was Christian.

At the vigil, attendees shared a moment of silence for the three men and ended with a collective singing of “Amazing Grace.” Zina Ibrahim ’17 initially approached ACSU with the idea of having an event of some kind to address killings and the broader issue of violence toward marginalized groups.

“We were talking about what we wanted, either a vigil or a fishbowl discussion, about how [the] media tries to cover certain things and ignores issues, especially related crimes committed against minorities,” Ibrahim said. “So what we wanted to do was just raise awareness to this issue and also hopefully lead further discussion about what we can do as individuals to make a difference and to change the way people perceive crimes against minorities.”

Some online responses call for these murders to be considered hate crimes by the authorities and the media, given the victims’ African and/or Muslim identities, the manner in which they were murdered and the fact that all three victims were killed in the same location at the same time. In addition, the hashtag #OurThreeBoys is being used in conjunction with #BlackLivesMatter in regard to these murders. Members of ACSU hope that bringing attention to these tragedies will spark a larger discussion on Grinnell’s campus.

“Zina bringing up this … this vigil and this idea, was definitely great because we’ve recently been trying to collaborate with a lot of different organizations on campus so it definitely also did bring to light a lot of issues that are happening even in our own country that we don’t really realize when we’re in Grinnell. So it’s definitely important to address these issues, especially of intersectionality … issues that can not only affect people based on race but can also affect people based on religion,” said Geneva Guadalupe ’17, ACSU President.

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