Charmaine Lawson: 'I'm not strong. I'm broken.'

Mar 15, 2019

Charmaine Lawson, mother of David Josiah Lawson, embraces Lorna Bryant after addressing a crowd of students and community members at Humboldt State University. The District Attorney announced Wednesday that they would not indict anyone in her son's murder case.
Credit Natalya Estrada

As the noon bell rang at Humboldt State University, a crowd of nearly 100 people began to form near the UC Quad. They stood in silence as Charmaine Lawson, mother of David Josiah Lawson, who was murdered almost two years ago, made her way to the front.  

"My family is destroyed. My family's suffering. I come and I stand here strong, but I promise you I'm not," she said in response to the Grand Jury's decision not to indict anyone for her son's case. "I get this every day from friends and family, 'you're so strong.' I'm not strong. I'm broken. I'm heartbroken." 

The decision was announced on Wednesday by the District Attorney's office. This prompted several to protest silently outside of the Humboldt County Courthouse that same day. 

Jill Larrabee, of the Justice for Josiah Committee was at the courthouse on Wednesday and at Friday's event in the HSU quad. She stressed the importance of not losing hope and supporting Charmaine during this difficult time. 

Charmaine Lawson, center asks community members to form a circle and hold hands as they take a moment to remember her son, David Josiah Lawson.
Credit Natalya Estrada

"The more that we are together, working with Charmaine and being closer with Charmaine, we realize we are our own power. And we need to take our own power and we need to find justice ourselves," Larrabee said. 

With the decision made, the Arcata Police Department vowed to keep investigating the case. Police Chief Brian Ahearn said they didn't expect this outcome, but that they respect the decision. 

"We go right back to work and make sure that our goal does not change. We're going to solve this case," he said. 

This month's Vigil for David Josiah Lawson also happened on Friday in Eureka, at the Humboldt County Courthouse. Attendees wore red and white to support the Lawson family. 

Charmaine was joined by other speakers, singers and community members at the steps of the courthouse. Red candles and bunches of red flowers surrounded signs that read "We love Charmaine," "We stand with Charmaine."

After the event, Charmaine Lawson asked students to stand with her on the steps of the courthouse. She promised they would be protected and that they're lives matter.
Credit Natalya Estrada

Charmaine thanked the crowd for being at HSU earlier and the one that was at the courthouse--close to 200 people--for supporting her. 

"This doesn't end. Maggie Fleming I hope you can hear me. You have me fighting harder now. I'm fighting harder now," she said. "Know that my son's murder is not the only murder that we're going to start focusing on. We need to start focusing on murders that have taken place here in Humboldt County, murders that this office has not prosecuted." 

Charmaine plans to work with HSU and local high schoools on a David Josiah Lawson scholorship to help students of color go to college. She also plans to open a space for students facing homelessness, called "Josiah's House" where she plans to house and feed students free of charge. 

After the speeches and songs. Charmaine asked students from both HSU and College of the Redwoods to join her on the steps of the courthosue, to link arms and then sing with her. 

A crowd of nearly 200 people gathered at the Humboldt County Courthouse to fight for justice in the unsolved murder of David Josiah Lawson, after the Grand Jury annouced it would not indict anyone in the case on Wednesday.
Credit Natalya Estrada

"I'm with you. I'm going to stand with you. If you've lost a loved one here in Humboldt County and you have not gotten the justice, I don't care what color you are, you need to join us so we can fight for you , as you fight for us," she said.