On the evening of Wednesday, April 6, SW 6th Avenue saw a vigil of stories, light and love emerging from the Portland State community to commemorate the tragic death of PSU student Amara Marluke, who was shot and killed on Monday, April 4. The exterior of the Broadway residence hall was lined with dozens of students, standing together silently and adding to a vigil full of flowers, photos, cards and candles.
Crowded together, gatherers chanted her name several times to ensure it was heard. Marluke’s mother made an extensive call for ending domestic violence, advocating for others who may be in a position of domestic abuse. Several other students followed her statement with personal anecdotes to reinforce her point.
“She loved to fight injustices, she lived to fight the world,” Marluke’s mother said. “This is horrible. She would’ve become the biggest advocate against domestic violence.”
Illuminated by candlelight, Marluke’s family, friends and fellow students gathered to share memories about her. Her character was remembered to be constantly bright, loving and caring. Her passion for fighting injustice and aspiring to advocate for others inspired many, evident by the abundance of praise for Marluke.
“I think, honestly, she was one of the most innocent and kind people, and if you ask anyone they’ll say the same,” said best friend Sarah Wallach. “She walked into a room and made people feel seen and heard, and in our world today, it’s really hard to do that.”
“I worked with Amara and only knew her for a short time, and in that time she was such a light in my life,” said coworker Isabella Slobojan. “She was always so kind, fun and truly had the most beautiful soul.”
Marluke’s case awaits trial, but the community was active in healing together from this tragedy. The vigil was a bittersweet indication of the caring community PSU has as well as a reminder to check in on the safety of community members, to ensure prevention for future similar situations.
“The fact that this [vigil] happened—obviously, like, with all the love and support people have given—you can see how much she touched people and I just want people to hold onto that,” Wallach said.
“This was not how it was supposed to end,” said father Bradley Marluke. “She was supposed to take over the world.”
A GoFundMe has been started on behalf of the Marluke family for those interested in donating. If you or someone you know may be a victim of domestic violence, visit resources such as the National Domestic Violence Hotline or SHAC (Student Health and Counseling) for immediate assistance.