Lionel Macauley Remembered At Weekend Vigil

A makeshift memorial for Macauley was created on one of the park’s basketball courts. (Photos: Emma Richter.)

By Emma Richter.

    A celebration of life for Lionel Macauley, one of the victims of the September 13 shooting in New Brunswick, was held Sept. 19 in Castleton Park.

The event started drawing a crowd to the park at around 5 p.m., and by the end of the vigil, both basketball courts were filled with people who said they loved and supported Macauley.

Candles were placed along the perimeters of the courts, and more candles were passed out to all in attendance. In the very middle of the court, a small memorial was set up for Macauley, consisting of candles, flowers, balloons, and a picture of him. 

The vigil was planned by Jasmin Bonner, the same coordinator of Franklin’s Black Lives Matter Protest in June. Bonner was not able to attend the event, but her friend, Janai Martinez, stepped in to run the vigil. Martinez was a good friend of Lionel’s, she said, knowing him through her brother.

“I hope that we get peace of mind and leave here gaining that gun violence is not the answer, and come together as a whole to end gun violence,” Martinez said. As the vigil continued, a brief moment of silence was held for Lionel, and another moment for gun violence in general.

Reading a message from Bonner, Martinez said, “I really hope that people start understanding that bullets don’t come with names on them. I’m sorry this world failed you, Lionel. Fly high, king.” 

    Macauley, a Franklin High School graduate, was a dancer, actor, athlete, and a spoken word artist.

Speakers noted that Macauley was the kind of person who could light up a room simply by walking into it, as friends from pre-school to his professional life stood in the middle of the court reciting story after story about their late friend.   

Amidst the speeches about his life, Macauley’s favorite two words were chanted by the crowd: “Blessed, Grateful.”

Friends and family made shirts, sweatshirts, and face masks with that saying on them.

Ashely Antonia Lopez, who met Macauley in 2017 through acting, said that she was “grateful and blessed to have him in my life.”

During his time at Franklin High School, Macauley was an active member of the community, playing basketball, running track, and dancing in “Team Franklin,” a dance group started in 2010. 

Toward the end of the event, the coordinators turned on music for everyone to dance to in remembrance of Macauley. After each candle was lit, a moment of silence was taken for him, ending with a firework show.

Martinez said that a possible annual walk to end gun violence might take place in Franklin soon.

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