On Aug. 21, a brief memorial service was held at The Rainbow Beach Field House to honor the three victims of a hit-and-run incident that took place in front of the Black gay bar The Jeffrey Pub, located on Chicago's South Side.
The incident, which took place in the early hours of Aug. 14, is still under investigation by the Chicago Police Department as a possible hate crime, and no suspects are yet in custody.
The three young gay men who died as a result of the incidentDeVonte Vivetter, Jaylen Ausley and Donald Hueywere celebrated at the small outdoor gathering by family members, LGBTQ+ advocacy groups (including Brave Space Alliance, Life Is Work, Stud 4 Life and The Lighthouse Foundation) and high-profile community members (including entrepreneurs Otis Mack and Vera Washington). Attendees not only honored the lives of the victims but called for a deeper investigation into the incident.
The memorial was officiated by Pastor Jamie Frazier of The Lighthouse Foundation and featured words from LGBTQ+-rights advocate Dawn Valenti; Brave Space Alliance Acting CEO Jai Rice; Huey's mother, Charlitha Riley; and Ausley's cousin Curtis Henderson. Also, Raymond Wise sang "Amazing Grace" as part of the presentation.
Most at the gathering expressed their anger at the slow pace of the investigation. Although the sedan that was used in the incident had been found, family members were frustrated that the Chicago Police Department have few clues and no suspects. At present, there is a nationwide wave of violence against LGBTQ+ peoplespecifically, people of colorin which the police have been slow to investigate.
Valenti said, "I don't know what happened, whether it was intentional or an accident." After speaking briefly on the history of the LGBTQ+-rights movement, she said, "I know we did not come this far to fight each other. We have enough fighting and anger directed at us for us to be fighting each other."
Rice said, "These three boys were fighting a lack of queer spaces on the South Side of the city. We need spacesspaces that are for us and by us. We also don't have the intergenerational support that the white LGBTQ community has on the North Side. If we don't get that intergenerational support we will keep dying."
Speaking about Ausley, Henderson spoke about his many academic accomplishments and plans to pursue graduate education. He also spoke of Ausley's generosity, saying, "Ask anyone whoever came across him [about] his loving spirit. Giving back to othersthat's what Jaylen was all about."
Before the ceremony, Stud 4 Life's Wanda B told the local ABC affiliate, "I just want what happened to be revealed. I want this to be investigated and I don't want them to blow it off. I'm pushing for them to find out what is really going on and give the families some closure."