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The Scarlet & Black

Vigil held for slain Waterloo student

By Emma Sinai- Yunker

A Candle Vigil in honor of a 19-year-old boy beaten to death in Waterloo, Iowa last month was held outside of the John Rosenfield Center on Friday, Aug. 26.

“There was a strong presence on campus to whom this really mattered,” said Elliot Karl ’12, manager of the Stonewall Resource Center and one of the organizers of the event.

Marcellus Richard Andrews died Sunday, Aug. 21. He was pronounced dead after his family made the decision to take him off life support, following an attack during which Andrews was beaten heavily and suffered severe head injuries. According to witnesses, throughout the fight the assailants used homophobic slurs. Despite this fact, the Waterloo Police announced that the attackers would not be prosecuted for a hate crime.

The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier reported the incident started around 12:45 a.m. on Friday, Aug. 19. Andrews was on an enclosed porch when a truck stopped outside and taunting began. His friend and her cousin arrived in time for the fight, during which Andrews received fatal injuries. He was flown to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics for treatment.

In response to this attack, many groups have organized vigils in honor of Andrews and to bring attention to the homophobic nature of the incident. Grinnell College was among those who decided a vigil would be an appropriate response.

Karl was first alerted to the incident on the Wednesday before the vigil. He, along with Jarrett Joubert ’12 and Kate Loftur-Thun ’14, both of SRC, organized the event. Candles were handed out along with programs and an estimated 125 people attended the vigil beginning at 8 p.m. During the vigil, there was an introduction and then an opportunity for other people to speak.

“The thing about vigils,” Karl said, “is that they’re not supposed to be led by one person. It’s really about coming together as a community and a group of people.”

Ben Aronowicz ’12 attended the vigil in order to honor Andrew’s life and support the LGBTQ community. Aronowicz said that it was incredibly important for Grinnell, as a Hate-Free community in Iowa, to have held this vigil for both of those reasons.

“[The Vigil was] silent, respectful and solemn,” Aronowicz said. “It may not have been the best place for a larger talk about these issues, but I feel there needs to be a discussion.”

Karl wanted one thing in particular to stand out to the Grinnell community.

“Although it seems distant at times,” Karl said, “it’s happening in this state and it’s happening to people our age. And it should be a concern for everyone.”

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