The Real Boise: Citizens, City Leaders Turn Out to Commemorate Victims of Wylie Street Knife Attack 

click to enlarge People brought flowers to the vigil for the victims of the Wylie Street apartments knife attack.

Harrison Berry

People brought flowers to the vigil for the victims of the Wylie Street apartments knife attack.

On the evening of June 30, Kituta Asimba received a phone call from a friend who lives near the Wylie Street apartments. It was urgent: Police had cordoned off the complex and people had been injured.

"I was not sure what was happening, but I had a lot of bad feelings about what was going on," said Asimba, a refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

That night, nine people were wounded in a brutal knife attack. Two days later, on July 2, one of the victims—3-year-old Ruya Kadir—died from her injuries. That same day, Asimba and more than 1,000 others flooded Capitol Boulevard and City Hall Plaza for a vigil commemorating the victims.

"Safety belongs to everybody," Asimba said.

click to enlarge - More than 1,000 people crowded into the City Hall Plaza and Capitol Boulevard for a vigil for the victims of the Wylie Street apartments knife attack. -  - HARRISON BERRY
  • Harrison Berry
  • More than 1,000 people crowded into the City Hall Plaza and Capitol Boulevard for a vigil for the victims of the Wylie Street apartments knife attack.
From a podium, barely visible but clearly audible from the street, city and community leaders held back tears as they talked about the crime and its impact on the city. The victims were refugees, and though the motives behind the attack remain under investigation, many, including Mayor Dave Bieter, said the public response to the attack says more about how welcoming Boise is than the attack itself.

"This is the Boise that I know: one that comes closer together [in the face of tragedy]," he said.

click to enlarge - Boise Police Chief Bill Bones talked with citizens before the vigil began. -  - HARRISON BERRY
  • Harrison Berry
  • Boise Police Chief Bill Bones talked with citizens before the vigil began.
For many in the crowd, the Saturday attack was the bookend of an emotionally fraught month for immigrants and refugees. In June, ProPublica reported on a U.S. policy that detained the children of undocumented immigrants separately from their parents. Hours before the apartment attack, thousands had gathered at the Idaho State Capitol to urge lawmakers to never reinstate such a policy, and to abolish Immigration Customs Enforcement and the Border Patrol.

Just a few hours after the rally, the attack came as a shock to Boise citizen Becky Delana, who attended both the rally and the vigil.

"We had just celebrated Families Belong Together that same day," she said. "I was posting photos of how we're a welcoming city [on social media]."

The outpouring of support impressed Asimba, who's a decade-long resident of Boise and works as a liaison to other refugees. He said public concern about violence committed against refugees belongs to everyone.

"Everybody should be accommodated, so they can be part of the solution," he said. "People who are native to here, they should feel like they're part of this as well."
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