Three-month anniversary of Hassani Campbell disappearance marked by thin vigil crowd
on November 10, 2009
Three months ago on Tuesday, a search began for Fremont boy Hassani Campbell, after his foster parents say he went missing from a Rockridge shoe store.
Community activists marked the occasion at an evening vigil at College Avenue Presbyterian Church, where in front of television crews they called for renewed attention to the search for the boy, who would have celebrated his sixth birthday September 26.
The Oakland Police Department believes the boy was murdered. In August they arrested his foster parents, Louis Ross and Jennifer Campbell, on suspicion of homicide, but the Alameda County District Attorney declined to press charges, and his whereabouts continue to stump investigators.
It wasn’t hard for the organizers of Tuesday’s vigil to demonstrate that their cause is losing some steam with the general public: At the start of the vigil, television and print reporters outnumbered the crowd of four people. Later in the prayer session led by church member Albert Hussian, one latecomer arrived, bringing the total to five people.
Organizer Sheri-Lyn Miller said the size of the crowd shows that people have begun to turn their attention to other matters. That’s unfortunate but inevitable, she said, especially in the aftermath of high-profile incidents such as last week’s military base shooting at Fort Hood, Texas.
“Even though it’s very sparsely attended, we know peoples’ hearts are still with Hassani, wherever he may be,” Miller said.
Although fewer people may be attending the vigils, Miller said the search for Hassani has had some recent achievements. A fundraiser held on November 1 at Garre Winery in Livermore brought in $1,000, and a reward fund for finding the boy has grown to $75,000, she said.
“It hasn’t gone unnoticed,” Miller said. “We’re not going to stop until Hassani comes home.”
Alameda County Supervisor Gail Steele, who attended Tuesday’s vigil, said it is important for people to keep Hassani in their thoughts, even though the constant repetition of homicides in Oakland makes individual victims fade from the public consciousness.
“When it’s one by one, people forget,” Steele said.
Richmond resident Celina Carleton, a regular at past vigils who said she attended high school with Jennifer Campbell, said she was not discouraged by the scant attendance at Tuesday’s vigil.
“Unfortunately there’s only a few of us that have stuck around, but I’m not giving up,” Carleton said.
Oakland resident Gloria Coleman, 47, attended her first vigil for Hassani on Tuesday as a show of solidarity with the boy’s family.
“I just wanted to show some kind of support because I’m a mother and grandmother and I can feel their pain,” Coleman said.
Anyone with information that might help police find the boy is asked to call the Oakland Police Department at (510) 777-8572 or (510) 777-3211.
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