By Cathy Locke
California State University, Chico officials report that approximately 900 students, faculty, staff and community members rallied today in support of Associated Students President Joseph Igbineweka, who was assaulted Sunday in what Chico police are calling a hate crime.
The unity rally in the Student Services Center plaza was organized by the CSU, Chico student organization Black Leaders on Campus. The purpose of the rally was to unite the campus community and show support for Igbineweka in a time of need, according to a university news release.
Igbineweka was stabbed just north of the campus, in a neighborhood where many students live, about 2:15 a.m. Sunday as he was walking home from a party. The assailants fled, but Chico police later arrested Barry Sayavong, a Butte College student, on suspicion of attempted murder and a hate crime.
According to the Chico Enterprise Record, Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey said he ordered Sayavong to be released from the county jail without charges based on "insufficient evidence" after meeting with two Chico police detectives Thursday morning.
Speakers at today's rally included CSU Chico President Paul Zingg, Chico Mayor Ann Schwab, Chico Police Chief Mike Maloney, Black Leaders on Campus representatives Malcom Dixon and Walter Torrence, and CSU, Chico staff member Mai Hou Lo.
Other speakers were Butte College student Tony Gamboa and Les Jauron, Butte College's vice president for planning and information.
The rally was in keeping with the Black Leaders on Campus' goal to be a bridge for communication among students and others in the community, and to allow any student to feel comfortable with other people, according to Christensen "Swang" Sanders, the organization's vice president.
"The idea of the rally is that the situation with Joseph does not escalate into more confusion or be misinterpreted by people," Sanders said in the news release. "This is an opportunity for people to unite and say that this type of behavior and violence should not be tolerated, whether it be a hate crime or a crime for any reason."
Many people at the rally wore yellow armbands as a sign of unity and support for Igbineweka, who was unable to attend because of continuing medical treatment for stab wounds he suffered in the assault, university officials said.
Call The Bee's Cathy Locke, (916) 321-5287.