More rallies, prayer ceremony held for deceased Indian student in Seattle

More rallies, prayer ceremony held for deceased Indian student in Seattle


New York, Sep 27 (IANS) Members of the Hindu community in Seattle held a prayer ceremony for Jaahnavi Kandula, the 23-year-old Indian student who died after being hit by a police patrol vehicle in January this year.

Around 25 people gathered at Denny Park on Sunday to perform a 'shanti puja', or peace prayer, to invoke peace and blessings for Kandula.

“You create a message with protest, but you can create an even stronger message with peace,” Arun Sharma, founder of community organisation UTSAV, told The Seattle Times.

Along with other community members, UTSAV volunteers had recently met Mayor Bruce Harrell to demand accountability for Kandula's killing, and the same day, nearly 100 people marched to the place where Kandula was hit.

They held signs saying “Jaahnavi had more value than SPD (Seattle Police Department)” and “Justice for Jaahnavi, jail killer cops.” At that gathering, UTSAV members pledged to escalate action if cops like Auderer are not disciplined, The Times reported.

Last week, people gathered in the Chinatown-International District to march to the Seattle Police Officers Guild headquarters. Many held up signs reading "Justice for Jaahnavi" and for SPD to "clean house."

Studying for a master’s degree at Northeastern University’s campus in the South Lake Union neighborhood, Kandula was crossing Dexter Avenue North at Thomas Street on the night of January 23 when Seattle police Officer Kevin Dave struck her with a patrol car at 74 mph.

Investigating the incident, Seattle Police Officers’ Guild Vice President Daniel Auderer, was heard calling Kandula a “regular person” and suggesting that the department “write a check", in a bodycam footage.

The video clip sparked massive outrage across India and the US with leaders, lawmakers and advocacy groups calling for Audrer's dismissal from the police service.

Last week, the Seattle’s Community Police Commission recommended that the officer under investigation for joking about Kandula's death be placed on leave and his pay be withheld.

The commission also asked Seattle police Chief Adrian Diaz to “immediately engage in a workgroup” made up of the Community Police Commission, the Office of Police Accountability, and the Office of Inspector General to “address repeated concerns with the culture of policing and police practices at Seattle Police Department".

The Seattle Police Officers Guild has said Auderer’s statements were taken out of context and that he was mocking lawyers and a legal system that places monetary value on human life.

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