Friends and family gathered in remembrance of Quanice Hayes on Sunday evening, three days after the Portland teenager was shot and killed by a police officer.
The candlelight vigil was held in the parking lot of Banfield Pet Hospital off Northeast 82nd Avenue, a block from where Hayes was killed. More than 100 people gathered along the asphalt tonight to mourn the loss of the 17-year-old.
"We remember him as a vivacious, outgoing and loving soul who marched at the beat of his own drum," said Venus Hayes, Quanice's mother, wrapped tightly in the arms of her family. "Whether he was giving an impromptu dance at Little Caesar's for free pizza or displaying his own unique sense of style."
The crowd used markers and lipstick to write messages on a wall to Quanice, known to friends and family as Moose. "In my heart forever," wrote his mother. Friends told stories of Moose, laughter emanating through the crowd.
"We stand in forgiveness," explained a friend of the family. "We forgive that officer and hope that he is in repentance."
The shooting of Hayes by Officer Andrew Hearst is the first killing of a black person at the hands of Portland police in nearly seven years, and has reignited questions about justice for people of color in this city.
Police and Mayor Ted Wheeler held a press conference Friday saying Hayes matched the description of a robbery suspect, and that he had a fake handgun when he was killed. Activists with Don't Shoot Portland have questioned that account and say officials are trying to smear the teenager.
Tonight, Hayes' mother asked the public not to speculate, but instead to offer information to the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon and internal affairs detectives. A teary-eyed session was preceded by big smiles and tight hugs. An artist offered a drawing of Quanice to his family.
"Quanice was the love of my life. Quanice was idolized by his siblings and adored by his family," Venus Hayes said. "We're all struggling to find sense in his death and are mourning the loss of a life taken too soon."
Here is the full statement by Venus Hayes:
"We ask that everyone here tonight celebrate the life and memory of Quanice Derrick Laquante Hayes, who was our son, brother, grandson, nephew, cousin, and friend. We would again like to thank everyone for the outpouring love, support, and prayers that we have received during this difficult time. For those of us who knew Quanice well, we remember him as a vivacious, outgoing and loving soul who marched at the beat of his own drum. Whether he was giving an impromptu dance at Little Caesar's for free pizza or displaying his own unique sense of style. Yes, he wore purple skinny jeans and a clip-on earing necklace. Quanice's personality was magnetic. He was the person you liked and would remember the moment you met him. Quanice was a 17-year-old kid that would often prefer to be at home with his family rather than a night out with his friends. He was the oldest of five children. Quanice was the love of my life. Quanice was idolized by his siblings and adored by his family. We're all struggling to find sense in his death and are mourning the loss of a life taken too soon. While we wait for answers surround the death of Quanice, we ask everyone to refrain from speculation. Anyone that witnessed the tragic event leading up to the death of Quanice is encouraged to contact the ACLU along with detectives Eric Camara and Mark Slater. We will be taking no questions at this time and we ask that you please continue to respect our privacy while we continue to mourn the loss of my son."