A few dozen Santa Clarita residents gathered in Central Park Saturday to honor the deaths of Robert Fuller, 24, and Malcolm Harsch, 38, two Black men who died last week in Palmdale and Victorville.
Gathered in a field behind the baseball diamonds, the two dozen or so people in attendance discussed the importance of the deaths of Fuller — who was found hanged in a tree near Palmdale City Hall on June 10 — and Harsch, who was also found hanged in a tree in Victorville on May 31. Harsch’s family issued a statement Saturday that said his death appeared to be a suicide.
During the vigil, those in attendance held flowers in honor of the two men and talked about the need to feel in solidarity with the families in Palmdale and Victorville. They also held up electronically lit candles in honor of those who died unjust deaths.
Trey Durden, 21, of Saugus, said he was in attendance to honor both Fuller, and his half-brother Terron Jammal Boone, who was killed during a shootout with Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department deputies in Kern County on Wednesday.
“It was tragic what happened and we want to remember their lives,” Durden said.
“In November, we experienced a mass shooting, and the violence seems to be a recurring theme,” said Tate Dickens, 21, also of Saugus. “It’s not about just our city or county, but also the valley and our neighbors down the highway.”
“Palmdale is our neighbors, and I just feel like it’s a sense of community,” Durden added. “It’s important for us to come together as a people.”
Harry Reed, 70, of Newhall, discussed how he might be the oldest person in attendance and saw his first lynching in Alexandria, Louisiana, in 1964. He then drew parallels between that lynching, and the hangings saw throughout the country in recent weeks.
“The lynching doesn’t just affect the one that they lynched, it affects everybody who sees it, who hears about it,” said Reed, “and most importantly those who allow themselves to be influenced by it. The No. 1 thing we can’t do is let it stop us. They can’t hang all of us.”
In addition to discussing the ills of systemic racism, the speakers during the event also touched on the importance of mental health.
“It’s really beautiful especially for this community, for our Black community and all the people of color to see so many people coming out here to show that you support them, you love them, you respect them and honor them,” said Megan Duncan, 21, of Santa Clarita. “I really hope that this is the catalyst for change, and I’m hoping that the next generation doesn’t have to go through some of the things that the older generation and our generation have to go through.”
“Nobody should ever be judged on the person who they are based on the color of their skin,” Duncan added. “We can just keep growing and changing and give the future to our Black community that they deserve.”
The investigation into Fuller’s death had not yet been concluded in the city of Palmdale as of Saturday.