Binsted vigil displays reverence for local anti-crime initiatives

The focus of the Binstead event was certainly on Richmond, portraying Richmond as a wounded community.

vigil.jpgRoughly 300 people gathered last night to pay their respects to Tyler Binsted, the 19-year-old VCU student recently gunned down in Byrd Park. The crowd, peppered with local citizens, art-school friends, police, professional photographers, and news crews, gathered under a single, harsh streetlight near Byrd Park’s Roundhouse for a vigil honoring Binsted at 8:30pm.

Vigil-goers formed a wide, respectful semicircle around Binsted’s family, only to strain to see past the scaffolds of multiple news cameras that had muscled up to the front for close-ups. The event was officiated by Citizens Against Crime’s founder, Alicia Rasin. “Tyler did not die in vain,” said Ms. Rasin in her opening remarks, urging friends and strangers alike to keep the family in their prayers. In reference to one suspect that has yet to be caught, she exhibited an attitude of complete confidence, saying “The other person who’s out there, I’m not even worried about him. They will get him off of the street. You can run, but you can’t hide.”

Chief Willie B. Fuller of the VCU Police Department confirmed Rasin’s statement. “We’re here to make sure that senseless crimes like this don’t go unpunished,” he said.

The focus of the event was certainly on violence in Richmond, portraying Richmond as a wounded community rather than mentioning much of anything about Tyler Binsted himself. Every opportunity was taken for various officials — addressing the news cameras rather than the mourners — to mention steps currently being taken to curb the violence, to tout themselves as part of a very important cause, and to encourage residents to raise awareness and be catalysts for change. Little was said about Binsted’s active part in the VCU art community, and instead the personality of this sculpture student was honored with verbose prayers and a loud, soulful hymn. To an outsider, the vigil seemed like an inappropriately mis-matched, if well-intentioned, eulogy. Perhaps tact, and not sincerity, was lacked by the decision to place the vigil’s emphasis on public relations statements. One can hope that at least the family was touched by the turnout, and by the vigor with which the event was undertaken.

Tealights were handed out to the crowd, and Rasin proceeded to light her own candle, next passing the flame to the Binsted family. Family members and others then helped to spread the candlelight to every attendee, until each person held a small flame, shielding it against the light breeze. Rasin then instructed the crowd to hold its candles high in the air, and to shout “Happy birthday Tyler, we love you!” twice into the night sky before blowing out the candles. Binsted’s 20th birthday would have taken place next week.

In a city that’s seen its murder rate drop dramatically in the past several years, it’s a wonder that this one crime has set off such a scramble to display the fact that Richmond does, in fact, oppose the occurrence of violence within its realm. The facts would seem to speak for themselves, proclaiming that these crimes are diminishing, if not altogether able to disappear. But the fact that an organization like Citizens Against Crime exists and is willing to appear as a gesture of goodwill when necessary is also probably a good sign, speaking well of Richmond as a whole.

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Tess Shebaylo

Tess Shebaylo is a freelance writer, crafter, history geek, and compulsive organizer. She works at Tumblr and lives in Church Hill with her daughter, Morella.

Notice: Comments that are not conducive to an interesting and thoughtful conversation may be removed at the editor’s discretion.

  1. Thomas J. Binsted on said:

    Ms. Dixon,
    Your thoughts on last nights vigil reflect my own…more emphasis should have been placed on my sons accomplishments and all that he had yet to offer the community. Still, I feel the sentiments were genuine.
    This was not the first or last tragic loss that the community will experience but I don”t know what is being done to curb the flow. Are parents raising their children better? How can they when they are children themselves? Where are the pastors and the congregation when they see a friend or neighbor making poor decisions? Or going down the wrong path? What of the mentors or students with time on their hands?
    Paula and I have always felt that the best contribution that we could make to society would be to raise kids with a sense of responsibility towards mankind. In that I feel confident that we have succeeded…however, that in itself does not appear to be enough.I pledge myself to become my brothers keeper.

  2. Thanks for sharing this with us, Mr. Binsted. It was great of you to give us your perspective on what undoubtedly is a painful time. Our thoughts and prayers are with your family.

  3. john m on said:

    Not to make light of the pain that anyone feels on the death of Mr.Binstead, but why the sudden reaction to this one killing? It is not as if Richmond hasn’t seen at least one every few weeks for as long as I’ve been watching.

    Oh, right –he’s a white VCU kid. Is it still really that simple? Someone please give me a better reason than that

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  5. Justin on said:

    Something highly visible like the death of a VCU student, someone that lots of people knew or knew of, is just naturally going to attract the kind of PR stuff that Tess and Mr. Binsted didn’t like. But that’s all it is – PR.

    As far as I know, the Richmond murder rate hasn’t just dropped for white people, or people in the fan, or rich people, or Yuppies like me. I’m pretty sure that the people in our police department, community organizations, and churches, the ones who actually do the work, care about each and every lost life. Even if the media and the politicians and the everyday people of the city don’t seem to.

    I’m with Mr. Binsted – I have no idea what sorts of things you do to keep crimes like this from happening, or even the right way to respond to them. That vigil might not have been ideal. But I agree with John: lets challenge each other to respond to other violent, unfortunate crimes the same way and with the same urgency. I believe that there are those in the city who already do.

  6. To the Binsted family, I would like to express my sincerest condolences. Your son was a part of our family and we shall miss him, even those of us who never met him.

  7. I think you said that really well, Justin.

  8. Mr. Binsted,
    Thank you for reminding us all to try our best to be our brother’s keeper. It a large but necessary burden, and is easily overlooked in the day to day crush of raising a family, making a living, and trying to live life to its fullest.

    You are inspiring that you have taken such heartache and turned it into making this world a better place.
    You, Paula, and the rest of your family, and Tyler’s friends and girlfriend remain in our thoughts and prayers.

  9. Thanks for the feedback, all. I especially thank you, Mr. Binsted, for weighing in on the vigil. I’m glad I was reading the atmosphere right, and that it wasn’t just me that felt that the event had been a little steamrolled by agendas. At the same time, I’m also glad that you did feel honored by all the efforts of the people there. The way you’ve acted and the attitude you’ve assumed through this has inspired me more than you know. Thanks.

  10. Charlotte Cerne on said:

    I have been more touched by Tyler Binsted’s murder than others. Perhaps because he was a boy who did everything right.He was beautiful. Those who die because they choose to do drugs, associate with dealers, associate with abusers, drop out of school and hang on the corners. Well, they are dead already aren’t they? This is a boy whose resume needed no padding when he left this earth. He was an asset to this world. I have no shame for mourning his death to such a degree and seeing that others have not cherished this life they were given.

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  12. Hank Picariello on said:

    After 38 years I reconnected with some former Marines I served with in Viet Nam. One of them was Tom “Travis” Binsted, Tyler’s father. Ironically, this connection was made the day that Tyler’s life was so tragically taken. Since learning of Tyler’s death, I have been following on the Internet the outpouring of love and support for Tyler’s memory by his family, friends, fellow students and just about anyone that has come to learn of the way Tyler lived his life.

    It is no small wonder to me that Tyler died because of the selfless and brave actions he took to protect the young girl who was with him the night he was killed. It is no small wonder to me because his father, likewise, was a hero to me and the other Marines he served with in Viet Nam. We never got to say goodbye to Tom Binsted. He was seriously wounded and sent home to recover from his wounds before any of us that were close to him could say goodbye to him. It is obvious that Tom Binsted and his wife Paula raised their children to live their lives to the fullest. They obviously devoted a great deal of time and effort to instill in them a a sense of giving to the community and to their fellow man; human qualities that were so terribly lacking in the lives of the two cowards that took Tyler’s life.

    Tyler Binsted, like his father, is a hero. I wish I could have known him.

  13. Pingback: Progress made in Tyler Binsted case | RVANews

  14. Richmond commonwealth attorney Mike Herring must resign. Today news of the dropped charges against laprecious hit the news. It reminds me of mr.Herrings decision to allow Ray Dandrige one of the two Harvey murders to serve life in prison.

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