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Aaron Lowe’s Death Has University of Utah Community Restarting The Healing Process

A photo of flowers around a sign that says '22 forever' with a halo and angel wings.
Ivana Martinez
Aaron Lowe was 21 years old when he was shot and killed in Salt Lake City’s Sugarhouse neighborhood Sunday.

Community members gathered in a semicircle at the University’s Marriott Library’s Gould Auditorium Monday night to begin the healing process after the death of student athlete Aaron Lowe.

Lowe was a sophomore football player studying communications. He was from Mesquite,Texas and the first recipient of the Ty Jordan scholarship — another former U football player who died last Christmas.

Lowe was shot and killed at a house party in Sugarhouse hours after midnight on Sunday. He is the fifth U student to be killed in the past five years.

The event, “Journey Towards Healing,” held by the Black Cultural Center was meant to be a place for the campus’ Black community — students and faculty members — to come together to share and discuss their emotions surrounding Lowe’s death.

Rachel Alicia Griffin, associate professor at the University of Utah, said she had Lowe in two of her classes.

She read a portion of Lowe’s paper from her class where he wrote about the lack of knowledge people have about African American history and the effects that are still being felt today with mass incarceration and police brutality.

“Not too many people know the history of our culture,” Lowe wrote. “I just want to assure you that our people have been fighting for 400 years and counting and we are still suffering from lynchings, being in prison for crimes we didn't commit and murder from the cops. The last thing I would ever want to see is my own flesh and blood leaving this earth that way.”

University administrators remembered Lowe as a brother, a son and a “talented young Black man.”

Griffin said his death wasn’t as shocking as the administration wrote it out to be in their press release. She asked them to be more racially conscious of the messaging they sent out to the community.

“The news of another Black man dying as the result of gun violence, it's not shocking at all,” Griffin said. “In American culture, it is the mundanely tragic source of predictable heartbreak, especially in the Black community.”

She also asked campus leadership about efforts to support African American students and faculty.

University President Taylor Randall said he knows his life experiences as white man have influenced how he views what happened to Lowe. He said it’s a limited view and he has a lot of learning to do. Randell said an important part of that educational process is listening to the needs of the community.

“I think what I would like to learn through this is how we can change these messages and how we can be a part of the healing process,” Randall said. “I hope we can talk about the pain we share here.”

Other members who were attending virtually asked about how university leaders will engage in larger conversations about gun violence in light of Lowe’s death.

Acting University of Utah Police Chief Jason Hinojosa said it’s important to have conversations about gun violence with the campus community and law enforcement because they don’t talk about it enough.

Salt Lake City police are still investigating Lowe’s case, they said they have “promising” witnesses.

Ivana is a general assignment reporter
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