BALDWIN — Quawan "Bobby" Charles, the 15-year-old found dead Nov. 3 near Loreauville under suspicious circumstances, whose death has led to outrage over the slow response of police, was laid to rest Saturday.

Family, friends and activists gathered at the West St. Mary Parish Civic Center to celebrate the young man's life and to call for justice.

Quawan disappeared from his father's Baldwin home Oct. 30. Video allegedly shows him getting into a vehicle as a passenger. The family reported his disappearance to the Baldwin Police Department Oct. 30, but officers did not issue an Amber Alert or missing-person notice. After the family contacted the Iberia Parish Sheriff's Office days later, the boy's body was found near a sugar cane field. Two autopsies indicated he drowned. Toxicology results are pending.

A photo of the deceased boy was circulated on social media. Family and friends said cuts and damage to Quawan's face suggest he was beaten, even tortured. The Iberia Parish coroner said the marks are from being in the water.

Quawan lived only 15 years.

"That's not fair. That's not right. That's not enough," civil rights attorney Chase Trichell, who is representing the family, said Saturday.

Trichell said he spoke with his mother about Quawan's case while driving down from Baton Rouge on Saturday. She cried, he said. She cried for a boy she never met.

"Our purest emotions, emotions of love, grief, sorrow. They're universal," Trichell said. "The pain that a mother feels is not exclusive to one race. We are all human."

Years from now, Trichell said, he believes professors and social scientists will study the massive chasm in race relations in the year 2020 and a resurgence in the civil rights movement that began in 2020. They'll talk about the lost souls who sparked the resurgence: George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Aubery, Trayford Pellerin and Quawan Charles.

Trichell said he will work so that Quawan's legacy is that he begins a conversation "in this community and in this state and in this country about the wrongs being done to little Black boys and little Black girls. About how a system can overlook a kid because of the color of his skin, his socioeconomic status, the fact that he doesn't belong to the right family or have the right last name."

Martin Luther King Jr. said it won't be the words of your enemies that you remember, but the silence of your friends, Trichell said.

Then the attorney issued a challenge.

"I'm looking at all of my White friends in the community, in positions of power," Trichell said. "If you want to be a friend to the movement, if you want to make a difference, stop sitting on the sidelines. Stop sitting on your couch watching TV and saying, 'Aw shucks.' Stand up. I want you to see your own child in Quawan's face. Just because he doesn't look like your own kid doesn't mean he isn't equally important."

In a powerful, emotional closing, Trichell compared himself to others who took part in Quawan's service.

"I can’t preach and I can’t sing," he said. "But I can law. And I will not sleep until we get justice for Quawan. I will not stop. I will not quit until we know what happened.

"I’m going keep fighting for this family, for the little boy I never knew, and hopefully for the next family and the next little boy who won’t have to go through this."

Activist Jamal Taylor, co-founder of Stand Black, urged everyone to stand, even if they're weary. To stand, if they can do nothing else. To stand and give permission to someone else to stand with you.

"Today’s the beginning. We're going change the world because of your son," Taylor told Quawan's parents, Kenneth Jacko of Baldwin and Roxanne Nelson of Youngsville. "They're done killing us. They're done covering stuff up. We're not going to let the sheriff bully us. We're not going to let the DA hide."

Quawan "was adored by his family," his father said through a spokesperson. "He was kind, someone who was always a pleasure to be around."

His son would not want the family to grieve for long, Jacko wrote, but to remember him fishing and spending time with his cousins.

Eve Greenberg, Quawan's' sibling, recalled the boy's smile and said he was a courageous young man. While their large family hasn't always been very close, she said, Quawan, in his death, is bringing them closer.

His cousin Laila Charles recalled one of the last times she saw Quawan was at school, where he was walking, head down, carrying his backpack.

"I wish I could press the rewind button. If I had known, I would have hugged you so tight," she said. "We won't stop fighting for you until justice is served."


Email Claire Taylor at ctaylor@theadvocate.com.