Fremont vigil for Jaahnavi Kandula draws dozens

Deepa Sharma and Harini Krishnan, of South Asians for America, speak about the death of 23-year-old Indian graduate student Jaahnavi Kandula and the need for police accountability. Body camera footage of the police union vice president laughing at her death and devaluing her life recently went viral, sparking a public outcry. (Sonia Waraich - East Bay Echo)

FREMONT, Calif. — The death of 23-year-old graduate student Jaahnavi Kandula in Seattle earlier this year went largely unnoticed until a video showing a police officer callously laughing at her death and devaluing her life went viral, sparking public outrage across the country.

In response to this distressing video, about 60 people, including Fremont City Councilmember Raj Salwan, State Assemblymember Alex Lee and 2nd District Supervisor Elisa Márquez, gathered at the Fremont Downtown Event Center on Sunday, Sept. 17, to mourn the young Indian national and call for accountability. The vigil was organized by South Asians for America and the Asian Pacific American Democratic Caucus of Alameda County.

According to media reports, Kandula was struck and killed by Seattle Police Officer Kevin Dave, who was driving 74 miles per hour in a 25-mile-per-hour zone, on Jan. 23. Earlier this week, body camera footage of Daniel Auderer, vice president of the Seattle Police Officers Guild, laughing about her death and devaluing her life went viral.

“Just write a check,” Auderer is heard saying. “$11,000. She was 26 anyways. She had limited value.”

Speakers emphasized that this is not an isolated incident. Black and brown people, especially women, are frequently the targets of violence, whether that takes the form of domestic violence or police brutality.

Elected officials like Supervisor Márquez expressed their solidarity with Jaanhavi’s family and the community, stressing the importance of holding law enforcement accountable for their actions. Advocates like Anjali Rimi, president of Parivar Bay Area Trans Advisory Committee, spoke about the importance of the South Asian community getting involved to ensure these types of tragedies do not happen in the future.

Sonia Waraich can be reached at 510-952-7455.

Featured photo caption: Deepa Sharma and Harini Krishnan, of South Asians for America, speak about the death of 23-year-old Indian graduate student Jaahnavi Kandula and the need for police accountability. Body camera footage of the police union vice president laughing at her death and devaluing her life recently went viral, sparking a public outcry. (Sonia Waraich – East Bay Echo)

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