UM News Brief: BLQWEEK, University of Georgia murder suspect found and Aaron Bushnell

UM News Brief Graphic Credit: Roberta Macedo Photo credit: Roberta Macedo


Black Leaders for the queer community host a week of events

Beginning on Feb. 26, Black Leaders for the Queer Community initiated a week of events aimed at honoring the impact of the African-American, Latino and LGBTQ+ underground subcultures.

The week-long celebration, BLQWEEK, had a focus on amplifying ball culture, in which members of these communities would perform in different categories influenced by pop and queer culture while meeting in underground “ballrooms.” The week started off with the opening ceremony at Lakeside Patio, featuring food and music from black queer artists.

The next day featured a night filled with exciting game night activities along with queer student organizations SpectrUM, TransCendence, oStem, Obus, OutLaw and GradOUT. On Feb. 28th, participants were involved in a voguing workshop which involved a booth of makeup and glam.

BLQWEEK also featured the anticipated first-ever Ballroom Showcase at UM, which took place on Friday, Mar.1 at the Newman Alumni Center with performances, DJs and refreshments.

The final event, titled “Serving 10s,” took place on Sunday, Mar. 3. at the UC Canopy. Volunteers will be partnering up with Foo Society, a new LGBTQ non-profit organization, to create a space of mentorship at the U.


Nursing student murdered on University of Georgia campus

University of Georgia student Laken Riley was tragically murdered on campus while jogging in the morning.

On Feb. 22, Laken Riley was reported missing by her friend after she failed to return from her morning run. At 12:38 pm the same day, Riley was found unresponsive with visible injuries. She died from blunt force trauma to the head, Athens-Clarke County Coroner Sonny Wilson Morgue said.

UGA police were able to identify the suspect as Jose Antonio Ibarra, 26. An Athens-Clarke County Police Department officer approached him because he matched the description of a suspect in the investigation and Ibarra presented his U.S. permanent resident card.

“The card was determined to be fraudulent. Ibarra is a citizen of Venezuela and was processed for expedited removal but claimed a credible fear of return to Venezuela. He was consequently released from immigration custody pending adjudication of his claim for asylum on April 30, 2023,” wrote the United States Attorney Office Middle District of Georgia.

The undocumented Ibarra was charged with possessing a fake green card. The charges against Mr. Ibarra also include murder, aggravated assault, false imprisonment, kidnapping, hindering a 911 call and concealing the death of another.

This case is being investigated by Homeland Security, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Athens-Clarke County Police Department, University of Georgia Police Department and Clarke County Sheriff’s Office.

More than 22,000 people signed a petition urging for emergency lights to be installed in the wooded area where the student’s body was found, so that police may be directly notified in the event of an emergency..

U.S. Air Force senior airman sets himself on fire in protest of the Israel-Palestine War

On Feb. 25, Aaron Bushnell set himself on fire outside of the Israeli embassy in Washington DC, in what he proclaimed as a protest against the Israel-Hamas conflict in Gaza.

Bushnell began a livestream on his phone before 1 p.m. standing in front of the embassy gates, dousing himself in flammable liquid from a bottle. As he lit himself on fire, he repeatedly screamed, “Free Palestine.”

After the flames were extinguished by Secret Service officers who responded to the event, Bushnell was taken to a local hospital and was pronounced dead at 10:06 pm last Sunday.

Prior to his death, Bushnell emailed left-leaning websites, informing them of his extreme protest, known as self-immolation, for the Palestinian people.

This was not the first time self-immolation occurred in the events of the conflict. In December, a protester set himself on fire at the Israeli consulate in the state of Georgia, with a Palestinian flag discovered at the scene.

“Many of us like to ask ourselves … What would I do if my country was committing genocide? The answer is, you’re doing it. Right now,” said Bushnell in his final Facebook post.

He filmed his protest on Twitch, a livestream social media platform. The video since then has been removed, yet blurred clips continue to circulate on the internet.