Candlelight vigil held for Breonna Taylor

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Sami Mirza

ASG President Abdikadir Lugundi, ’21, addresses the crowd at vigil

Silence fell through the gator quad as students gathered in a candlelight and pajama vigil in honor of Breonna Taylor last Thursday, Sept. 24.

Students of all races, creeds and ethnicities sat in socially-distanced clumps, while a few walked the perimeter, toting cardboard signs with messages like “Black Lives Matter” and “The Time Is Now” inscribed.

On March 13, Taylor, a medical worker, was killed by officers in what has been described as a “botched raid.” The officers were responding to a no-knock warrant to search the apartment — which belonged to Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker III — for allegedly being involved in drug trading, according to The New York Times.

Upon arriving at the apartment at around 1 a.m., officers entered using a battering ram. Walker discharged his weapon and fired at who he assumed to be intruders, striking one officer in the leg. The return fire by police resulted in the death of Taylor, according to CNN

Although Taylor’s death never completely left the public eye due to circulating posts on social media, it recently gained a second round of attention following the news that two of the three officers involved in the raid that resulted in her death were acquitted. The third was charged with wanton endangerment for shots that passed through the walls into other apartments, according to The New York Times.

Between 5 p.m. and 5:15 p.m. on Thurs., the group of approximately 70 — consisting of mostly students with a few faculty members — sat on the Gator Quad in silence out of respect for Taylor.

A student with chalk and other supplies arrived and attendees began to write and draw on the sidewalks and exterior walls of the Henderson Campus Center, while others created posters to decorate the interior of the building.

As the crowd spread out to decorate the quad, other attendees who felt compelled addressed those in earshot.

“It’s important that people that have the right to vote use it,” Natalie Davidson, ’22, said. “I’m not a citizen. I’m not able to vote in this country, but I’m still able to get shot by a cop.”

ASG President Abdi Lugundi, ’21, also addressed the crowd, expressing concern for the future.

“I’ve been to a lot of discussions, but the question is, what are we going to do next?” Lugundi said. “It’s cool to be supportive of Black lives, but if your friends aren’t, what does that say about you?”

After students had spoken, those gathered participated in reciting the Assata chant, calling for love and support within the community.

“It is our duty to fight for our freedom,” the crowd chanted. “It is our duty to win. We must love each other and support each other. We have nothing to lose but our chains.”

“We’re in Meadville, Pennsylvania,” one student said in between lines of the chant. “We’re surrounded by Trump flags — even right across the street in Baldwin. Let’s make that freshman hear us!”

A majority of the students dispersed around 6 p.m., with some continuing to linger in the area until about 7 p.m., sitting in silence and talking to those who approached them.