Some MU students hope to draw attention to a far-away event and issues on campus.
Gamma Rho Lambda, the Triangle Coalition and other student organizations will sponsor events this week to honor Lawrence King, who was shot last month in his Oxnard, Calif., middle school.
According to the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network, a classmate killed him because he told classmates he was gay and occasionally wore women’s clothing and accessories.
Gamma Rho Lambda President Ashley Price said the groups will sell T-shirts for $10 today through Thursday in Brady Commons, with $4.50 of each shirt sold going to The Center Project, which funds the construction of a safe space for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning individuals in Columbia.
The T-shirts will be black, with “Are you erasing hate?” printed on the front, Triangle Coalition President Josh Barton said. The back would be printed with “Replace hate with understanding, compassion and acceptance.”
People can attend a candlelight vigil from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday in A.P. Green Chapel.
Price said attendees could sign two large pieces of paper, which the groups will then send to King’s family and school.
The group will hold a forum from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday in the Gaines/Oldham Black Culture Center.
Price said she has heard from people across the state and nonstudents who want to come to the events or buy a T-shirt.
“So I think I anticipate there being a good number of people showing up and there not only being students,” Price said. “That’s a key part of this. As much as this is a campus event, it’s a city issue, a state issue and a national issue.”
Price said the shooting has not received much national attention, and the groups are trying to change that.
“It’s really hard for people to deal with that,” she said. “It’s a subject no one wants to talk about.”
Barton said the media hasn’t covered the shooting adequately.
“The situation is kind of like the Jena 6 incident where people have been responding on the Internet,” Triangle Coalition President Josh Barton said. “The mainstream media is different.”
Jena 6 refers to six black teenagers from Jena, La., who were charged with attempted murder for beating up a classmate. Protesters said the severity of the charge was influenced by the students’ race.
Price said she and Barton, upon hearing about the King shooting, did research and decided to do something about it and not let the opportunity pass.
“I think the main thing, for me, is that not only are we bringing awareness as a university and a student body, but giving money to a The Center Project, building a LGBTQQIA center in mid-Missouri,” she said. “We want to also provide a safe place for young people. We don’t have that here.”
Price said she wants people to be aware of the shooting.
“That a 14 year old was killing someone in his own school,” she said. “That needs to be something that we’re focusing on. This happened. Let’s stop it. The reason we’re doing these events has more to do with that than anything else.”
Barton said the event is a sign that violence against LGBTQ individuals is not random.
“The event proves that queer people are victims of violence on a daily basis,” Barton said. “It’s systematic violence.”
Barton said the shooting reflects issues that are rooted in society.
“It’s easy to deal with gay people when they are adults, but when it’s a child who identifies as gay, we have to admit that we live in a society that forces people to conform to binaries and socially accepted relationships,” Barton said.