The Tragic Passing of Quawan Charles
Photo by Karla Ann Cote/NurPhoto via Getty Images
On October 30th, Quawan Charles, a fifteen-year-old Baldwin Louisiana native, went missing from his home. Shortly after his disappearance, his parents called the Baldwin police department to report their son missing, however, the officers didn’t seem concerned about the disappearance and merely brushed it off as a boy sneaking out to spend time with his friends. Moreover, a half week later, after Quawan’s parents contacted the nearby Iberia Parish sheriff’s department, the authorities began searching for the missing boy. At 6 pm on November 3rd, the Iberia Parish sheriff’s deputies found the body of young Quawan in a muddy field near Loreauville, Louisiana. Quawan’s autopsy revealed his cause of death to be drowning, leading one to believe Quawan’s death to be an accident that occurred after the boy had snuck out of his home. However, upon further inspection, this does not seem to be the case. Two details, in particular, make Quawan’s death seem less like an accident and more like a case of murder. When studying the bodies of water surrounding the sugarcane field where Quawan’s remains were located, authorities reported the water as being only two feet deep. This leads one to believe that Quawan’s death would have only been drowning if an outside force had intervened, i.e. another person. This possibility was addressed by the Charles family’s lawyer, Ron Haley. Haley said that “If in fact he did die of drowning — and we’re saying that as an if — we’re calling into question how exactly that would have happened, can somebody who’s 5-foot-6 typically drown in two feet of water? No, not unless there’s another cause associated with that.” Another mystery surrounding Quawan’s death is how he received the facial scars and injuries that his body was found with. While the official statement from the coroner who performed Quawan’s autopsy was that the injuries were caused by “aquatic animal activity,” many believe that his facial injuries were caused by the same people who may have caused his passing.
As of now, Quawan’s disappearance and subsequent death are still being investigated. But this situation raises the question, had the Baldwin Police Department acted sooner and began their search for Quawan immediately, could his death have been prevented? We have no way of knowing, but Andre Arceneaux, the founder of the Stand Black advocacy group commented saying, “Regardless of whether this was racially motivated or not, regardless of what the situation surrounding his death may be, the fact that the police departments didn’t act the way they would’ve acted if Quawan was a 15-year-old white girl named Katie, that’s the problem.” Currently, those of us who protest against injustice in the world are mourning the death of Quawan, and questioning if there will ever be a day when people of differing race, gender, and sexual orientation will be given the same level of respect and protection afforded to them as human beings. Let us all hope that one day soon, that dream becomes reality.
- Walter Einhart: Co-Editor of TeensForChange
Meredith, Karenna. “Quawan Charles's Family Seek Justice After His Death Amid Apparent Police Double Standards.” Yahoo!, Yahoo!, 2020, www.yahoo.com/lifestyle/quawan-charless-family-seek-justice-213056697.html.
Fazio, Marie. “Disappearance and Death of Louisiana Teen Raises Questions About Police Response.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 15 Nov. 2020, www.nytimes.com/2020/11/14/us/quawan-charles-bobby-louisiana.html?auth=login-google.