A family celebrates Charleena Lyles' memory, but waits for healing
On a balmy Monday evening, children played games and danced in an open field at Sandpoint Magnuson Park. This would have resembled any other summer night were it not for all the people in t-shirts bearing one person's name: Charleena Lyles.
A year ago, Seattle police fatally shot 30-year-old Lyles at the housing complex next door to the park. Lyles was a mother to four children and pregnant at the time of her death. Friends and family had gathered in North Seattle to remember her.
Organizers said the event was held to reflect and heal. But healing, many attendees said, can’t begin until there was justice for Lyles and accountability for police.
“We live in a country that stands for justice and liberty for all," Jesse Hagopian, a speaker at the event and a teacher at Garfield High School, said. "But I won’t teach that, I refuse to teach that."
Instead, Hagopian told the crowd, he educated his students on injustice for people like Charleena Lyles by going to school in a shirt bearing her name.
Earlier this year, a police review board found the shooting justified. Nevertheless, the Lyles family has filed a wrongful death suit against the city.
Laurie Davis, Lyles' aunt, was giving away alphabet and counting books to kids at Monday night's remembrance. She remembered taking Lyles to a book fair when she was in first grade.
“She bought 'Goosebumps' and I read it to her," Davis remembered. "And then, after a while, she read it back to me."
When Lyles grew up and had her third child, Davis said, she told her aunt she wanted to show her something. It was the same 'Goosebumps' book.
Davis said she wanted Lyles' memory to be a legacy of love.