Vigil for victims of hate crimes held on steps of Rackham

Students gather at a vigil for victims of hate crimes outside of Rackham on Thursday evening.

Students gather at a vigil for victims of hate crimes outside of Rackham on Thursday evening.
Katelyn Mulcahy/Daily

 

Thursday, March 16, 2017 - 10:38pm

About 35 people gathered on the steps of the Rackham Graduate School Thursday evening to hold a vigil for recent hate crimes — in particular, in remembrance of the murder of Indian immigrant Srinivas Kuchibhotla in Olathe, Kan.

Kuchibhotla was murdered in Kansas last month when a man named Adam Purinton shot him after supposedly yelling “get out of my country,” as reported in the New York Times. Purinton was apprehended and charged with premeditated murder.

Event co-organizer Brendan Wu, a University of Michigan alum, said they wanted to both commemorate Kuchibhotla, but also, more generally, bring attention to other victims of hate crimes in the United States.

“We wanted to mourn those deaths and, more broadly, we wanted to hold a vigil just to bring attention to victims of hate crimes, because they’ve been on the rise,” Wu said. “We just wanted to help unite people in their pain and build strength in unity.”

State Rep. Stephanie Chang (D–Detroit) could not be at the event, but sent a statement to event organizers that was read at the event, saying she stands in solidarity with all immigrants and minorities facing harassment or attack.

“While I cannot be here tonight, my thoughts are with you, as well as with the families who have been affected by hate crimes,” Chang said in the statement. “Immigrants and others, today more than ever, are harassed attacked and murdered with horrifying frequency.”

During the vigil, attendees — particularly those of South Asian descent — were also invited to share personal experiences or general thoughts on their own communities.

Business junior Chelsea Racelis, a co-organizer of the event, said she hoped people would leave and not only reflect on what people in their own communities may be facing, but also strive to understand others and get further involved.

“I hope people reflect on what this means for their own communities,” Racelis said. “There is a reason why everyone came here today.”

Racelis also said she hopes people continue to go out and engage with different people and events around campus to learn more and stand in solidarity with others.

“I hope people leave with not a filled cup, but the desire to fill their cup,” Racelis said. “To not just come here and say ‘oh look this is so great, I went to this vigil and learned so much.’ I want people to take people and say ‘these are the experiences I heard and I want to hear more experiences.’ ”