GoFundMe for slain Louisiana teen Quawan Charles raises over $265K
The digital campaign exceeded its $15K goal as the family continues to search for answers in the suspicious death.
Over 14,000 supporters contributed to a GoFundMe campaign launched by family representatives Andre Arceneaux and a cousin, Celina Charles who are seeking justice in the death of Quawan Charles.
The fundraiser originally sought to earn $15K but as the mysterious case captured national attention, the total donated reached $274K and counting. The Charles family created the campaign to raise money to afford an autopsy and other costs associated with investigating his death. According to the campaign page, Quawan ‘Bobby” Charles was last seen on Oct. 30.
On November 2, he was found dead, facedown in a sugar cane field near his home in Baldwin, Louisiana. The family stated the autopsy needed to be done by Nov. 12 to guarantee all findings by the medical examiner can return conclusively.
Arceneaux provided an update recently, thanking the supporters for their outpouring of love and for bringing national attention to the case.
“Thank you to everyone who has given to Quawan’s family in this time of need. We have seen an incredible outpouring of love from across the globe and your help is giving the family time to grieve without the worry of financial obligations. Please continue to share and spread the word. We won’t stop until we get #justiceforquawan,” he wrote.
Quawan was picked up by a white woman and her 17-year-old son the day he disappeared, per theGrio. Police told the family he could have been at a local football game but his parents worried when he didn’t respond to a call at 3 p.m. that day so his mother could take him for a haircut, according to the New York Times.
By 7 p.m., his father had broken down his son’s locked bedroom door and reported the teen missing. Quawan’s parents later learned that Janet Irvin and her son picked the teen up and took him to their home in Iberia Parish. No one is sure when he left the Irvin home but local law enforcement obtained footage of the teen alone in the field, as per the Times.
As theGrio reported, over 100 people gathered at the former site of the Baldwin Police Department last weekend, demanding justice. His family marched alongside activists and community leaders who hope to get more details about Charles’ tragic death. A photo of his body presented on the GoFundMe page and making internet rounds showed a brutally injured teenager with trauma to the face and head. His almost unrecognizable appearance drew comparisons to Emmett Till.
Like the Till case, his mother decided to share the images of his lifeless body with the world. According to the Washington Post, his mom, Roxanne Nelson, was urged to share the photos by Celina Charles. On the page there is a photo of Till that says ‘1955’ next to one of Quawan that says ‘2020.’
“The people needed to see what he was looking like,” Charles said, according to the news outlet.
The family has criticized the response of law enforcement to their son’s disappearance and death. According to The Post, authorities did not issue an Amber Alert or let local news know and waited days to ping the teenager’s cellphone which ultimately led to the discovery of the body.
“Once this became public, almost every local news station said, ‘We had no idea a child was even missing,’ family attorney Ron Haley said.
The Washington Post reports that the Iberia Parish sheriff’s office told them the teenager had drowned. Despite only shallow waters in the area near the sugar cane field, a preliminary autopsy listed his cause of death as likely drowning, citing water in his airways and hyperinflated lungs. They attributed his facial injuries to wildlife. Celina Charles described their findings as “bogus” according to the report.
In the statement, Romero confirms there is an active, ongoing homicide investigation.
“I want to assure the public that I, and my team, are doing everything we can, and following every lead, to gather evidence into what happened in the untimely death of Quawan “Bobby” Charles. Any loss of life is a tragedy and that is especially true when it is a young person. Although we believe it is important not to compromise any part of our investigation, we are prepared to release some details so that the public can be assured we are not resting in our effort to find the truth,” Sheriff Romero said in a statement shared on Facebook.
No one is yet saying that the death was any hate crime, but the family believes the disappearance was not first taken as seriously as it should have been.
“Regardless of whether this was racially motivated or not, regardless of what the situation surrounding his death may be, the fact that the police departments didn’t act the way they would’ve acted if Quawan was a 15-year-old white girl named Katie, that’s the problem,” Arceneaux, the founder of a local social justice group, Stand Black, told the Times.
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