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Vigils for Marcellus Andrews

Several demonstrations and candlelight vigils are taking place Thursday evening in memory of a 19-year-old Waterloo man who died over the weekend following a violent attack.

Image has not been found. URL: http://media.iowaindependent.com/Marcellus_Andrews_175.jpg Marcellus Richard Andrews (Photo: Facebook)

Marcellus Andrews, of Waterloo, was taken off life support Saturday and officially pronounced dead on Sunday. In the early morning hours of Friday, he was part of a violent brawl that witnesses described as beginning with anti-gay slurs. Police do not anticipate the incident will be prosecuted as a hate crime, and cite an ongoing feud between the parties involved.

Nonetheless, Iowans will take to the streets tonight to remember the young man, who was slated to begin classes at Hawkeye Community College, and to speak out against bullying an intolerance. Information on some of the various vigils is included below. All will be held Thursday evening.

Cedar Falls — 8:30 to 11:30 p.m., Campanile, on the UNI Central Campus. The vigil is being organized by UNI Proud and participants are asked not to bring real candles, which are prohibited on campus.

Cedar Rapids — 8 to 10 p.m., Tree of the Five Seasons (near the 1st Avenue Bridge in downtown). This will be a candlelight vigil and there will be a few public remarks.

Council Bluffs — 7 to 7:30 p.m., Bayliss Park, at the Veterans Memorial Wall. The vigil is being organized by Council Bluffs Community Alliance.

Davenport — 9 p.m. to midnight, Mary’s on 2nd (832 W. 2nd St.). The vigil is being organized, in part, by QC Pride and participants are asked to bring their own candles.

Des Moines — 8 to 10 p.m., meet in front of The Blazing Saddle and walk to the steps of the Iowa Capitol, where there will be speakers. This will be a candlelight vigil.

Dubuque — 8:30 to 10 p.m., Dubuque Town Clock Plaza. The candlelight vigil is being organized by the Midwest Given ‘Em Hope Project. Participants are asked to bring their own candles.

Waterloo — 8 to 10 p.m., 200 block of Cottage St. This vigil, organized by family and friends, is being held in the residential area where the incident took place early last Friday.

Statewide — 9 p.m. to dawn. Those who cannot attend an organized vigil, but who would still like to do something to observe the moment, are being asked to leave their porch lights on in remembrance and for tolerance.

The Iowa Pride Network’s leadership team, comprised of high school and college students from across the state, issued the following statement Thursday:

This Sunday, many of us were getting ready for our first day of classes. However, as we all now know, one person was not. Upon hearing the story of Marcellus Richard Andrews, we were deeply disturbed that such violence and persecution happened here in the state of Iowa; however we were not entirely surprised that this sort of incident happened. We know firsthand that discrimination and bigotry both exist here, as in other places in the nation, despite our outward progressive appearance.

Let us not as citizens become so naïve as to think occurrences such as these are confined to places that are always elsewhere and never “here,” ever close to home. This has served as a reminder that the fight for equality is not over. We as youth need to vocalize what is happening in our schools and communities to better ensure the safety of all. We need to report every incident, every time so that issues such as these do not go unnoticed. By bringing these issues to the forefront people can become educated and help eliminate tragic events like this one. It is our hope that one day all youth will feel safe to live out in the open, as who they truly are.

The statement was signed by the leadership team members, who are as follows:

  • Benjamin Alley, University of Iowa
  • Holly Wilson, Southeast Polk High School
  • Sean Hernandez, University of Iowa
  • Dane Buchholz, Iowa State University
  • Rachel Anderson, Grinnell College
  • Alan Toussaint, University of Iowa
  • Joy Dannelly, Roosevelt High School
  • Mike Covington, IWCC
  • Nicholas Muntz, University of Iowa
  • Brittany Banks, Waldorf College
  • Stephen Boatwright, DMACC
  • Sara Puffer, University of Iowa

Ben Stone, executive director of the ACLU of Iowa, said, “The brutal beating death of Marcellus Andrews is further evidence of the existence of hatred and bigotry in our state. Whether the ultimate charges brought include an allegation of a hate crime, it appears from information reported in the media that the violence of that night was accompanied by anti-gay hatred and prejudice. The ACLU of Iowa remains steadfast in its decades-long commitment to human dignity and equality for all people, including young Iowans like Mr. Andrews.”

One Iowa Executive Director Troy Price released the following statement earlier this week: “We are deeply saddened by the brutal and tragic death of Marcellus. This is just not something that happens in Iowa and we are appalled at this level of extreme violence and intolerance. Tragedies like this underscore the incredible need to talk about issues affecting gay and lesbian Iowans and to fight for equality in our communities. When community, state, and national leaders ridicule and deride gay and lesbians, it creates a hurtful environment and gives license to this sort of attack. Most importantly, it harms lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) young people by sending the message that they are not equal. We can and must do better, because we can never, ever allow an attack like this to take place in Iowa again.”

A memorial for Andrews has been set for Friday at Union Missionary Baptist Church in Waterloo. Funeral services are scheduled for Saturday morning.

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