Seventy people-young and old, men and women, straight and gay, many dressed in black and most holding lit candles-gathered at the Santa Barbara Courthouse Sunken Gardens to remember the life and death of 15-year-old Lawrence King, an Oxnard boy who was shot and killed last week because of his sexual orientation. After a vigil at the Gardens led by Pacific Pride Foundation and the Anti-Defamation League, the group proceeded in a walk down State Street to Trinity Episcopal Church, where a memorial was made in remembrance of King. “We are really, really saddened by what has happened this last week,” said Jackie Reid of the Anti-Defamation League.
King was shot in the head by a fellow classmate early in the school day at E.O. Green School on Feb. 12 and taken off a ventilator late Feb. 14 after he was declared brain dead by doctors. According to news reports, the shooting was a hate crime because King was gay. “Just when we think we’re evolving in such a beautiful way, we have this happen,” Mayor Marty Blum said to the crowd. “As you evolve we get better and better and then you slip back.”
Angelica Hernandez, a student at Dos Pueblos High School, cried “Everyone should be safe,” she said. “I don’t think it was the bullet that killed Lawrence. I don’t think it was the shooter that killed Lawrence. It was the society that’s built and structured in a heterosexual manner. It’s just unfair that I can go to school and have classmates think it’s not an important issue.”
After the rains cleared yesterday afternoon, Hernandez said she saw a rainbow, and believed it was a sign from King that “he’s appreciating what we’re doing this weekend and to keep fighting for LGBT rights.”
Many in the group and the leaders who spoke talked about remembering King, but also moving forward to continue to raise the consciousness of accepting people of all shapes and sizes, color and orientation and creating an inclusive environment in culture. It’s not good enough to tolerate differences, Second District Supervisor Janet Wolf said, but the community should celebrate differences amongst people. “How exciting and what a beautiful place we would live in.”