Ever since word broke out over a Navajo woman dying from gunshot wounds after an altercation with police in Winslow, Arizona, a degree of anger and frustration over the incident has emerged from the Native community.
On March 27, 27-year-old Loreal Tsingine was shot during an altercation with police when she allegedly displayed a pair of scissors as a weapon. She was shot five times by an officer and died on the scene.
Almost immediately after the story went live, members of the Native community began sharing the developing story along with the hashtags #NativeLivesMatter and #JusticeForLoreal. Some offered condolences to the family while others provided their opinion in dealing with police in reservation border towns.
Strong prayers for the family 💔 #Justice4Loreal
— Candace Gonzalez (@_CantDance_) April 1, 2016
— FM (@lily_oh_lily_) April 3, 2016
#LorealTsingine killed by police, 5 bullets vs. a pair of scissors, smh
— Martha Peregrine (@MarthaPeregrine) March 31, 2016
Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye also issued a statement about the importance of seeking justice for Tsingine’s death and hinted that the Navajo Nation would consider pressing charges against the town of Winslow if “there [was] no legitimate justification for taking Tsingine’s life.” The Navajo Nation Council and the Hopi Tribe also issued similar statements voicing their condolences for the family.
For others, however, simply talking about the story was not enough.
The response led to two vigils planned in Tsingine’s memory. A candelight vigil was held on Wednesday, March 30 in which approximately 100 community members gathered, leaving flowers, messages, and signs with the same hashtags and others providing messages of hope.
Another vigil was held on Saturday, April 2, at 3 p.m. in front of the Winslow Police Department. Andrew Curley of the Red Nation, a coalition of community members advocating Native issues, said that this was to provide a space for community members to grieve and reflect on the loss of Tsingine. He also mentioned that during the vigil, selected speakers would discuss the prevalence of police violence committed against Native people and the systemic nature of it.
“It’s not just an isolated incident but it is an epidemic issue that affects all Native people in this region,” Curley said. “One that could potentially happen to any of us.”
He also mentioned that part of reason for having speakers at the vigil was “to draw attention to the institution that allows for somebody to have a gun and have some sort of authority over people, especially Native people. The institution allows that and that’s what we have to remind people.”
More than 300 people showed up to the vigil, along with Tsingine’s family and Navajo politicians like President Russell Begaye. Begaye briefly spoke about the value of life and reiterated plans for the Nation to sue the town.
Funeral services for Tsingine will be held Tuesday, April 5 at the Cedar Springs Nazarene Church in Cedar Springs, Arizona.