Ralph Yarl’s Classmates Demand Justice at Unity Walk
Ralph Yarl’s classmates gathered for a unity walk Tuesday, April 18, to show their support for the Black 16-year-old, who was just released from the hospital after being shot twice by a white man last week.
Per KSHB 41 in Kansas City, about 1,500 students and some staff marched around the Staley High School campus, holding posters and chanting, “We love you Ralph” and “Justice for Ralph.” A spokesperson for North Kansas City Public Schools said the march was “intended to support Ralph in his recovery and have a positive impact on the community.”
Yarl was shot in the head and arm last Thursday, April 13, while trying to pick up his younger twin brothers at a friend’s house and accidentally rang the doorbell at the wrong address. Yarl survived the shooting and, after three nights in the hospital, was released on Sunday. “He continues to improve,” Yarl’s dad recently told the Kansas City Star. “He’s responsive and making good progress.”
Speaking with reporters, Cayla, a senior at Staley High who helped organize the unity walk, said, “We stand with you, we support you, and know that we’re going to be here for you.” Eliana, a junior who has been in band classes with Yarl since sixth grade, spoke about his love of music: “I love getting to talk to him about the clarinet, about reeds, and music in general.”
Also on Tuesday, the man accused of shooting Yarl, 84-year-old Andrew Lester, turned himself into authorities one day after being charged with armed assault. While Lester was taken into custody after the shooting last week, he was ultimately released, pending further investigation. This delay has added to the racial dynamics of the incident, with civil rights attorney Ben Crump — who is representing Yarl and his family — telling CNN, “Nobody can tell us if the roles were reversed, and you had a Black man shoot a white, 16-year-old teenager for merely ringing his doorbell, that he would not be arrested.”
Kansas City Police Chief Stacey Graves acknowledged the “racial component to this case” at a press conference on Sunday, though declined to elaborate. The charging documents issued against Lester do not allege that the shooting was racially motivated.
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