[UPDATE 9 p.m.] Protestors Take Over Arcata City Council Meeting Demanding Justice for Josiah

A protestor with a bullhorn is framed by a Justice for Josiah poster.

A protester with a bullhorn is framed by a Justice for Josiah poster. [Photo provided by Ryan Hutson]

About 50 to 75 protestors have taken over tonight’s Arcata City Council meeting chanting messages like Black lives matter, Justice for Josiah, and Bring back Tom Parker.

According to a reporter at the scene, they are demanding that former FBI investigator Tom Parker who worked on the case of David Josiah Lawson be brought back.

Arcata City Councilmember Paul Patino

Arcata City Councilmember Paul Pitino [Photo by Ryan Hutson]

Lawson was a Humboldt State University student who was stabbed to death at a party on April 15, 2017. His death and the subsequent investigation has polarized the community and is widely believed to have caused the resignation of former Arcata Police Chief Tom Chapman.

The group has stated over the bullhorn they will not be leaving the building without an agreement by the city council to reinstate Tom Parker. Mayor Sofia Pereira is standing with City Manager Karen Deimer, while City Councilmember Paul Pitino is mingling in the crowd. The newly appointed Arcata Interim Police Chief is doing interviews outside. Meanwhile, the protestors are asking for a pizza delivery.
Protestors clap hands and chant slogans.

Protestors clap hands and chant slogans while one gives a power salute. [Photo by Ryan Hutson]

 Interim Police Chief Rick Ehle speaking with blogger Tina Sampay

Interim Police Chief Rick Ehle speaking with self-described independent journalist Tina Sampay

UPDATE 8:40 p.m.: The meeting has been postponed until tomorrow at 6 p.m. and will include a conversation about rehiring former FBI investigator Tom Parker but protestors are vowing to stay. Both Tom Parker and Josiah Lawson’s mother Charmaine Lawson spoke to the crowd via phone.

Arcata Interim Chief of Police Richard “Rick” Ehle told our reporter that Parker will not be asked to come back. He said that Parker is a federal investigator who doesn’t have jurisdiction to make arrests in California.

Ehle said he has hired six new investigators. One of these will be working full-time on the Lawson case.

Ehle used the word ‘incompetent’ when describing Parker, & Charmaine Lawson said by phone that she does not agree with that characterization. Centro Del Pueblo’s Renee Saucedo told Charmaine Lawson over the phone that the protestors would not leave until Arcata agreed to bring back Parker.

The mood of the crowd is angry–self-described independent journalist Tina Sampay (Slauson Girl) is very upset and grilling Arcata City Manager Karen Deimer about the incompetence of the Arcata Police officers involved in the case.

Arrests seem almost inevitable and sleeping bags are being deployed.

UPDATE 9 p.m.:

Sleeping bags, pizza, and protesters still in the chambers at 9 p.m.

Sleeping bags, pizza, and protesters still in the chambers just before 9 p.m.

Earlier Stories about David Josiah Lawson:



  • Protesters want pizza……man things have changed.

  • This ought to get interesting. Michael Jackson eating popcorn…

  • Nothing more than a bunch of thugs! They will never be satisfied.

    • Give it up. Your “own kind” killed Josiah. When the truth comes out there will be a lot of shut mouths and no apologies. Keep running your arrogance and racism,it makes you look brilliant!

      • What makes you think Thebigdeal is black?

        • LOL, a couple of racists fighting each other. Go for it dudes. LostCoast EMT, when a racist calls someone a thug, they are usually referring to black people. As for your comment, racism is based on a system of oppression. White people have never been oppressed, so you can’t call black people racist. Nice try though.

          • Hooray for the people who stubbornly refuse to be oppressed. Hooray for the people who stubbornly swim against the tide. And hooray for the people who refuse to let others define them in retaliation, revenge or viciousness. May I always stand with those who think independently and accept the results and oppose those who only group think and are led by the collective nose.

          • Anon: Get out of Humboldt County much? Ever read history? At one time, black civilizations dominated the world. Hell, more recently, the Moors made it all the way to Ireland, raping and pillaging, and taking white slaves. In Arabia and Africa, white people are oppressed daily, as in black enclaves in American cities.

            You stand in a county with a minuscule black population, where most black folk are subjected to no discrimination at all, except that which is brought on by reactions to black people’s aggressive demands to be treated deferentially because of their so-called collective victim status, you parrot phrases you heard somewhere, and you have no idea what you are talking about.

            Study your history. Stay up on current events – and not just those stories that enforce your world-view. Get out of Humboldt County and see the world for yourself. Then come back and say the same things you just said. You’ll feel pretty foolish.

          • Oh shit, I guess our white founders fought that Bloody revolutional War for nothing then? I guess I’ll have to call Great Britain and tell them, Whit#@$ sorry. Sense, somehow, as a white American I’m sure I’m responsible for it in some way.

    • Dogwhistle Detector

      > a bunch of thugs

      Beep! Beep!

  • Arcata is a joke.
    These kids tuition should be pulled.
    Imagine if every other faction of society was as disruptive as liberal activists are in north california, taking over a city council meeting? With their inside plant, Paul petino on the council already?
    I could go on and on about all the good white liberals protesting for somebody from the Bay Area that came up here because of h.s.u. Recruitment, did they even know him?
    Surely they care mostly because he was “black”, and they feel obligated(as white liberals) to stand up for other groups, because they feel so bad about their own country and culture, and they think bieng altruist martyrs for somebody else makes them better than Hillary Clinton’s deplorables, who are so horrible, because they are ethnocentric, not culturally relative nothings in the melting pot of nihilism.
    And if humboldt is so rascist, like the college kids claim, then Get lost back to the “Bay” or L.A.
    Most of us like it here.

    Of course, find the perpetrator of that tragedy, but really, where are the dunce protestors for all the other unsolved murders?

  • I guess summer vacation is over for HSU.

  • Plenty of unsolved murders in Humboldt County going back years. Take a number and get in line. Better yet put your money where your mouths are. Spend your own money and hire Mr. Parker. Won’t change a thing.

  • What do these thugs want the APD to do? A knee jerk arrest of the wrong man again to placate a mob?

    • Well if you read the article you will note that their singular demand is the reinstatement of Tom Parker on the case. Maybe start with reading the article?

      • The city of Arcata can do nothing about a federal agent that as I understand left the agency and is a private citizen. Well they could hire him, but the demands seem to be, well, not based in reality like everything else here. There is a way to get results and an emotional hissy fit isn’t it. Neither is a bunch of people who aren’t talking.

        • He’s offered to do it for free, and apparently when he was involved progress was made, but he got frustrated with the prior Chief’s lack of attention to the case.

          • You’ve been defending local municipalities and state agencies from not cooperating with the Feds over immigration (citing 10th Amendment protection from coercion) but now the same political/activist crowd wants a local police agency to be coerced into utilizing a former Federal agent for investigatory matters?

            Isn’t it interesting how there is nary a peep from the protestors about the evidence that was publicly produced in the preliminary hearing for Kyle Zoellner? That evidence doesn’t seem to fit certain narratives…

            • False equivalency.

              • It is not a false equivalency. This entire thing is a joke and makes me want to stay the hell away from Arcata. Protest outside- fine. Protest inside and refuse to leave and you’re trespassing. The fact that they didn’t arrest these people just shows how impotent these people are.

                • Angry for NOTHING

                  What is wrong with a protest, minor inconvenience, funny how people just dont like anything that interupts the government corporate agenda, City Councils are made up of tools and fools, why does a minor disruption bother you so much? 😆😂🤣

          • As a private citizen isn’t he free to investigate this death if he wants?

  • tell it to Josiah’s mother, who will not rest until her son’s killer gets what’s coming to him, which is prison for a long, long time. If the victim was your son or daughter would you demand anything less? The way I heard it, a lot of people know who did it and they are keeping quiet..It seems a bit self-serving to reserve your wrath for the folks who want to see justice served.

    • Tell this to Josiah’s mother. One third of murders in the U.S. go unsolved, permanently. Good chance her son’s could be one of them.

    • The people not talking should be arrested .
      Bullshit, games up..

    • Well I wouldn’t raise an openly racist kid that post videos in white face and picks fights at least two times over race. When multiple people jump one person they risk getting hurt either in self defense or by their own friend on accident. It’s not like her son was a victim of anything other than his own mistake of jumping someone with his girlfriend and friends. We have true victims of unsolved murders that didn’t die while commiting a violent crime themselves, like that other person said, get in line, lots of unsolved murders here.

    • He may not have anything coming to him….

  • what kind of pizza did they order?

  • Twinkle Winklestein

    Justice for Stephanie too, and what about Marci k.?

  • Justice for Jennika Suazo

  • Is it cultural appropriation when a white girl throws up a “black power” salute?

    • The raised fist predates the black power movement, though it did make extensive use of it. It was a symbol of solidarity within the labor movement from the early 20th century. In fact I think it was an IWW logo. It was used by the Republican Forces during the Spanish Civil War and by the French Underground during WWII. And it was used by the Polish Solidarity Union in Poland. It was used by Afghan rebels against the Soviet occupation. It was even used by US POWs in Vietnam. It’s pretty much a universal symbol of solidarity.

      • The swastika predates Hitler. However, I think it’s safe to assume that most people who adorn the swastika are just racists. Given the context of the protest, it’s more than likely that this dipshit protester is professing black power. Run to her defense though. Try not to trip over the irony on the way.

      • Yeah Kirk, and the swastika was used by many cultures before the Nazis appropriated it, A raised clenched fist is as synonymous with black power now as it is with the swastika and Nazis. Not that promoting black power amongst the “Black community”is a bad thing, every culture should be proud of themselves. But when it’s used to try to oppressed other people especially based on race, then they’re no better than what they’re protesting themselves. I bet you’re a good tap dancer;<)

        Rollin 21 beat me to it,guess I should have kept reading before I commented lol

  • I took my kid to the kinetic sculpture or something and crossing the plaza by the sculpture one of these assholes sticks a bull horn in my ear and screams “JUSTICE FOR JOSIAH!” What about justice for my ruptured eardrum and freaked out 4 year old? They have lost me, what a bunch of jerks. See ya Arcata, no fun in any way anymore.

  • Village idiots.

    • This is your future. Adults who work for a living have no clue as to the brainwashing that’s been perpetrated on these kids. They have been brought up as spoiled brats…but if we can tap into a larger discussion, then we might be able to flip the script and really use the hutzpah of these kids to make Some real change. All I see is more chaos coming down the pipes.

      • Again, there are a number of middle aged and some elderly involved, and at least half of them have full time jobs. Others are students or retired.

        • Thank you Eric Kirk. I’m not on one side or the other in this case, but I hear a lot of stupidity from the commenters, a lot of half concealed rascist bullshit. I’m not overly sensitive or pc but I know the dog whistles and I hear them in these comments. It’s nice to hear some intelligent input from someone who knows their facts- thanks Eric.

          • Can you hear a proxy argument when you hear one? Can you hear the dog whistles from all the participants or just some of them? Of course tooting on dog whistles attracts those dogs who are trained to respond. And all the dog whistles in this case have attracted all the usual dogs. And their good buddies to boot, who will soon learn to come running on their own in ever widening circles.

    • divide by zero. hahah. that’s who they are. very funny

  • WOW! Sure glad I don’t live in Humboldt.

  • For the uninformed, who seem to wish to remain so, I believe Eric Kirk is a moderator on a radio show on KHSU called Thursday Night Talk. He is educating those willing to engage their intellect.
    It won’t do much good for those spouting their fears from their reptilian brain stems.
    Good try though Eric, but you’re wasting your breath.
    In fact, so am I.

    • OK, I am the guy who had his eardrum blown out by a protester, no longer proud alum for other reasons and multi-year resident of a town that has gone down the drain of PC neurosis. There was a LARGE mob scene with people freaking out. a small police presence compared to said crowd showed up, there are 2 bloodied people unconscious on the ground and people are freaking and you are outnumbered 100:1. They freaked and fucked up the investigation, it happens. They had to stage Josiah’s ambulance it was so freaky, what don’t you get about that? There is no blame there? It was chaos.

      A DA has to have evidence that can make a clear conviction other wise they waste you money and their budget…and potentially put the wrong person behind bars. We don’t want that, right? Or do you want that for your “Justice”? If anyone has a rational mind they would look at this and ask lots of questions about this movement and what they truly want, justice is an excuse which is the history of what they are fighting. Human mob justice just has taken a different form. I implore you all to take a look at your actions and how you are cherry picking emotional issues, especially the ones that have been picked for you out of your control. Being polite, there is nothing you can do for justice here, but the diversion of your attention is well appreciated by some of consequence. Mother Lawson, you have always had my dear sympathies.

    • Yes, thanks Eric, for clarifying points about your protest in arcata.
      Unfortunately, there are a lot of people in humboldt county without college degrees, so such ignorance must be contended with.

      • Having a college degree does not in any way equate with intelligence or insight. Lots of very stupid people with very expensive educations.

      • I have two college degrees, one from HSU. Most of the people outside STEM departments are not getting much in the way of knowledge

      • Aren’t you special! It was people like you and the stupidity of the protesters that convinced us to move to Kansas,good fuckin% riddance!

      • Canyon Oak: I have no college degree, yet I knew everything Erik said about the raised clenched fist. I also am smart enough to know that this white girl was showing solidarity with nothing but black power, and it is disingenuous of Erik to suggest anything else.

  • “It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury signifying nothing.”

  • witch of westhaven

    “The dead cannot cry out for justice. It is the duty of the living to do so for them.”

    — Lois McMaster Bujold

    “But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.”

    — Amos 5:24, the Holy Bible

    • There is no such thing as “justice”. Justice for a murder victim would be to travel back in time and prevent the act. Likewise for rape and assault or almost any “crime”. What we are left with is punishment and revenge.

  • The ex-girlfriend knows the truth.

    • Girlfriend did it

      I think the exgirlfriend of the previous suspect is the guilty party, she was the only one coherat and had the motive considering shethought the black people stole her phone and she started the whole violent progression and escalation according to numerous accounts, the victim and his girlfriend were going to confron the previous suspect about being peppersprayed when they were both stabbed. If the boyfriend was really knocked out cold, then the only real suspect is his girlfriend who isnt talking.

  • College students should not be stabbing each other like there fighting for there life in a prison yard or chow hall they should be burying there noses in there books not burying each other in the cemetery I think anyone who’s family member that was a young college student would want justice if this happened to there family member if you can’t do the time don’t do the crime rude boy plane and simple so who ever stabbed him needs to do some time and reflect on the bad decisions they made you can’t say they did not know what they were doing when stabbing someone to death if you use a gun your done if use a knife you will be lucky if you don’t do life . College parties were always pretty lame anyways this is exactly why young people should not bother going to them a prime example of why you don’t go out drinking with a bunch of people you don’t know because there is usually always fights at college parties totally lame.

  • Thank you so much Eric for inserting facts and logic into the discussion! Im super appreciative, its helpful to hopefully create a meaningful dialogue instead of mistruths and emotional reactive BS.
    Protesting is what our country waa started on, the same rhetoric spewed here is not far off from what was said about the boston tea party participants&the IWW.

  • Lawson’s mother should ask her son’s so-called ‘friends’ about what happened. They were right next to him when he was stabbed, yet they have been totally silent about any information they know. Probably a few possible suspects, including one of them.

  • *IF* Josiah’s family and friends really want justice for him, those at the party would have–and still could cooperate with law enforcement. What have they got to hide?

  • What a bunch of mouth breathers.

    Does anyone really think that Arcata PD is trying to NOT investigate the case? I’m sure they want to make an arrest – if only to shut these imbeciles up. The case is dead in the water, and that happens. It sucks. But when you have a lack of evidence and a lack of willing witnesses, the investigation grinds to a halt. Short of grabbing up Josiah’s crew and beating a confession out of them (since local wisdom has it that one of Josiah’s own crew stabbed him by accident in the melee), what would these protesters have APD do? And, follow up question, if APD arrests a person of color for the crime, will that make the situation better… or worse?

    • Well put. Arcata PD can’t just arrest anyone unless they have EVIDENCE OR WILLING EYEWITNESSES. I don’t think the city really likes the repeat protesting. Politicians would like to say “Look! Here is your killer! Now get the hell out!” But no evidence + no willing witnesses = no suspect.
      What a farce. Total waste of air.

    • Friendly fire is always a possibility, and if true I’m sure he will self medicate until his demise

  • Man, what a bunch of babies. Getting ready for bed at 9?

  • why doesn’t APD do something useful and arrest the protesters? Just long enough to fingerprint each and everyone so they can work through process of elimination on who’s fingerprint was on the murder weapon. The same for Kyles friends, if they make a traffic violation arrest and fingerprint.

    • Excellent idea.

    • Research investigator

      I am certain the one who stabbed him is not protesting for a thorough investigation. Geez, does that take rocket science to figure out the murderer is probably the former suspects girlfriend….. Read the whole story….

  • Somehow, someway people are trying to bring attention to an event that deserves it.

    The right to protest is yours.

    Good luck yall.

  • The investigation started in protest with a racial divide from the first. Almost every move was made with race in mind. Media coverage, police actions, university actions, witness actions- all done as if this murder and its investigation was based on race with no specifics ever given to demonstrate race was a factor except that the murder man was black and the prime suspect was white. If both had been white or both black, this would be solved by now because the people involved would not have been so restrained by identity politics. This case has been deliberately loaded with centuries of history and can’t carry it.

    That it is still twisting in the wind is based on the bad behavior of all so determined either to have it he racism or to wash their hands clean from the taint of racism that they chose behaving like idiots instead.

  • I think they are well-intentioned but severely misguided racist.

  • I feel for Josiah’s mother. I couldn’t imagine having my child murdered. But since the beginning of this saga I have had a gut feeling that Josiah’s friends accidentally stabbed him in the heat of the moment. How can someone be right there and not see who stabbed him? Makes no sense. This is a county of murders. Most not resolved. They all should be given the time and respect by the community and media.

  • Just sit behind your computer.

  • So…who’s the racist when one of the dead black boy’s black friends cracks and admits it was a black boy that stabbed him, while trying to stab a white boy?

  • Researcher Investigator

    Ren and Josiah walked back to the house after the 1st altercation according to Josiahs friend, as they were upset they had been peppersprayed.
    According to Kyle Zoellners friends Kyle Zoellner was allegedly unconscious on the floor at this time. Ren (Josiahs girlfriend) and Josiah were both stabbed, who does Ren claim stabbed them? If the altercation was over Zoellners girlfriends cell phone, and she was accusing Josiah of takimg it, and Josiahs girl Rem and Lawsons g/f had an earlier altercation, it is extremely likely that with Zoellner unconsciouss on the floor, that Zoellners girlfriend coupd be the main suspect. It seems completely logical that she pulled a knofe out trying to defend her unconscious boyfriend . Maybe it was the group of girls and more than one suspect. After reading the available information over and over, O think the girlfriend was insane and out of her element enough as well as emotional enough about her black eye and her beat up boyfriend laying unconscious on the floor that she may have spazzed out and stabbed Ren, Josiahs girlfriend and then stabbed Josiah when he stepped on to stop the attack, maybe the stabbing happened outside and not in the house, Zoellners friends know for sure as Josiahs friends had already left the scene. How about polygraph the girlfriend of Zoellner as well as requestion Josiahs g/f Ren??? Bet it was ZOELNERS G/F or one of her girlfriends as Zoellner wasnt at the party with friends, just there to sober drive his wasted girlfriend who was drunkardly accusing partygoers of stealing her precious gold Iphone…. Either way she has alot of responsibility for this entire scene and mu dilligence; polygraph Zoellner’s girlfriend………

  • “Arcata Interim Chief of Police Richard “Rick” Ehle told our reporter that Parker will not be asked to come back. He said that Parker is a federal investigator who doesn’t have jurisdiction to make arrests in California.” ……….hummm, what is ARCATA POLICE HIDING?? FBI agents can make arrests enywhere in the usa, seems Arcata is covering their former cheifs poor judgement, somthing smells fishy🔥😉

    • Does life go on?

      He is retired. I don’t think a retired FBI agent has the ability to make arrests. Read the friggen article.

  • Ms. Kemp, your bias and ignorance is on display for all to see. You describe the protesters as “angry” in the same breath where you claim that Tina was “upset”, evoking the racist stereotype of the “angry Black woman”. Then you diss her as a “self-described journalist”. Shame on you!! Tina has a degree in journalism from HSU. She IS definitely a journalist, and a damned good one! She has spent countless hours interviewing people and covering stories that other so-called “journalists” won’t touch. By contrast, your reporting is slanted by obvious biases, therefore highly unreliable. You also allow the most disgusting racism to go unchallenged in your comments. For these reasons, I will *no longer bother to read this sorry excuse for a blog.

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