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19-year-old beat to death in Waterloo, Iowa prompts vigils, questions

Several vigils are being organized in eastern Iowa in response to the Friday night beating of a 19-year-old, who lost his life as a result of his injuries.

Image has not been found. URL: http://images.americanindependent.com/Marcellus_Andrews_175.jpgMarcellus Richard Andrews (Photo: Facebook)

Marcellus Richard Andrews was pronounced dead at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City on Sunday. He had been transported unconscious to the facility by helicopter from Waterloo early on Friday morning with severe head trauma.

According to reporter Jeff Reinitz of the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier, the attack that claimed Andrews’ life began with taunting in reference to sexual orientation.

Witnesses say they left Andrews sitting on an enclosed front porch at roughly 12:45 a.m. Friday. The witnesses were going for a walk, but only made it about a block from the home when they heard yelling. They returned and found a truck in the street, the occupants yelling at Andrews and calling him a “faggot.”

From the taunting grew a brawl, which a female witness admits to starting by throwing the first punch. Another female witness remembers Andrews being kicked in the face while he was down.

Andrews was removed from life support on Saturday, according to family reports, and was officially pronounced dead on Sunday afternoon.

Lieutenant Micheal McNamee of the Waterloo Police Department confirmed to The Iowa Independent by phone Tuesday morning that an investigation remains ongoing, no suspects have yet been arrested and that the incident has not yet been classified as a hate crime. The law enforcement officer had no other details to share because of the open investigation.

Of the numerous vigils and demonstrations being planned, one is taking place in Cedar Rapids, a community roughly midway between the location of the attack and Andrews’ later death.

“In this time of political knashing and fighting for human rights … I think it’s time that our community says we are not going to stand by and watch this happen ever again … and mainly to stand in solidarity with our community to the north and most of with friends and family of Marcellus,” wrote the organizer of the Cedar Rapids Thursday evening candlelight vigil. The vigil, which will include a few brief statements, is slated for 8:30 to 10 p.m. at the Tree of the Five Seasons, near the 1st Avenue Bridge in downtown Cedar Rapids.

Another Facebook posting by Iowa Gay Advocacy asks for porch lights throughout the state and nation to be left on in memory of Andrews Thursday evening.

A third page devoted to the memory of Andrews holds messages of condolences and shock.

“My heart is breaking,” wrote a young woman. “May the angels fly thee home,” shares a young man.

“Anyone who has not ready this story, please look it up,” cautions an Iowa mom. “This is a tragedy for our state and our nation as a whole. We need to move past the hatred, people, and live and let live as well as love and let love.”

A Philadelphia man adds that it is “so sad this 19-year-old didn’t get to grow up in a world without bigotry and violence as an everyday occurrence.”

“My thoughts are with his family and hope his soul is at peace.”

Most can’t help but question how something like this can happen to a young man, who had only recently bought text books in preparation for studies at Hawkeye Community College and who led the Crusaders step team for Missionary Baptist Church.

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