by Jen Graves
on Sat, Apr 28, 2012 at 10:35 PM
Flowers ringed the tree in front of the Quintessa Apartments at Second and Yesler, where Nicole Westbrook was shot one week ago. Westbrook also lived at the Quintessa, so residents organized the memorial.
At least 50 people gathered tonight at the spot where 21-year-old Nicole Westbrook was gunned down, to honor her life and support her family and boyfriend.
Chalk drawings on the sidewalk called for justice—police still have no leads on her killers, though several people are seen on the scene in this surveillance video—and chalk writings also described, in a native language, a joining of native nations.
Westbrook was Navajo (and from Albuquerque). A powerful drum and voice group from the nearby Chief Seattle Club sang to commemorate her departure. The final song included one man's voice formed into the sound of a bird.
Nicole Westbrook's aunt, Joyce Esquer, speaks, and stands with Nicole's mother. Nicole's father, Marshall Alan Westbrook, was killed in the Iraq War; his brother, Kenneth Warren Westbrook, was also killed at war serving the United States, in Afghanistan. Nicole's brother is recently returned from a tour of duty.
Among the speakers were Westbrook's aunt, Joyce Esquer, who kept her arms around Westbrook's silent mother for most of the hourlong gathering, and Westbrook's older sister, Marcia.
"We just want to say thank you, thank you, thank you a thousand times for doing this, for coming out," Esquer said, speaking to a crowd of mostly strangers.
Westbrook had moved to Seattle less than a month ago to attend the Art Institute of Seattle in hopes of becoming a chef.
"I just want justice for my sister," Marcia said. "I want somebody to say something, to speak up, to stand up, because they took away our baby, our angel. ...All I can say is I miss my sister, and I know she's watching over us."
The first two officers to arrive on the scene of Westbrook's shooting stood watch over the proceedings. Afterward, the family shook their hands, thanking them.
Gazelle Williams wears the brown leather jacket of her great-nephew, Desmond Jackson, who was shot and killed in February nearby, she believes by gang members and also randomly. "He was so small—this was his jacket," she said. "Can you imagine him taking four bullets in the chest? I can't. I can't."
"The police at least are helping [the Westbrooks]. They aren't doing anything for us. They said it could be up to a year. It's just been horrible. I've told the mayor's office and the Seattle Police Department: I blame them for this murder. How many more families are going to have to go through this? I did not watch the news before, but I do now, and I'm going to attend each one of these memorials."
The Chief Seattle Club drum group performing for Nicole Westbrook's memorial, which united Native Americans from many nations.
Nicole Westbrook's aunt, Joyce Esquer, and Nicole's mother greet the police officers who were the first to arrive on the scene when Nicole was shot.