Regine Henderson, Contributing Writer
VCU students gathered together on the Compass last night to reflect on lives lost and violence in society that has become all too common.
On Feb. 24, Mohamedtaha Omar, Adam Mekki and Muhannad Tairab were found shot dead in an abandoned house in the city of Fort Wayne, Indiana. The victims were East African and of the Muslim and Christian faith; however, police immediately ruled out the possibility of it being a hate crime.
Students at VCU believe it’s too early to rule that possibility out.
“With Islamophobia and the criminalization of black men being so high, the fact that they automatically ruled out a hate crime and insinuated gang activity speaks volumes to how the police are taking care of the case,” said Azza Hussein, one of the coordinators for this event. “We need to take it into our own hands to make them responsible.”
Abdi Mohamed, a 17-year-old boy shot and killed by a police officer in Salt Lake City last week, was the fourth person spoken for at the vigil. Since his death, many questions on whether the shooting was necessary have arised.
“It’s sad that the system is corrupt to a point where we have to question what’s happening and that we can’t get an answer directly,” said Lama Elsharif, a senior who helped organized the vigil. “I’m also Sudanese American … This could’ve happened to me.”
It’s for that reason that Elsharif and her roommates planned a night of remembrance to ensure these incidents wouldn’t go unnoticed.
“We need to do more work to question the police department and our government,” said Elsharif.
When asked why she attended Monday night’s vigil, sophomore Brianna Howard said, “I felt like it was my responsibility to pay them my respects for having their lives sacrificed so unjustly… Paying attention to things like this when they happen is a small step in hopes of preventing it from happening in the future.”
With a few kind words, a prayer and a poem called “Ali in Battle” by Rumi, Elsharif brought a close to the vigil.