Large Crowd Gathers at Lake Anne Plaza to Mourn Nabra Hassanen

by Dave Emke June 22, 2017 at 10:15 am 11 Comments

She was beautiful. She was selfless. She was caring. She was open-minded. She was compassionate. She was so many other wonderful things.

Her name was Nabra Hassanen.

That message was heard by a crowd of attendees in the thousands at a vigil in her honor Wednesday evening at Lake Anne Plaza. It was shared by the family and friends of the slain 17-year-old Reston girl, as well as by members of the area’s interfaith community, as they said goodbye to a beloved young lady taken too soon and too violently.

She was a young lady who must be remembered as more than just another faceless victim of a violent crime, mourners reminded.

“We tend to talk about ‘a Muslim woman’ or ‘a black woman,'” said Herndon native Rosalie Kendall, who now lives in Arlington. She came to the vigil with a sign that read, in part, #SayHerName. “[We don’t] talk about them by name when these things happen, and that makes them seem like they’re interchangeable and disposal.”

One of Nabra’s family members who addressed the crowd during the vigil repeated the sentiment.

“I just want to say, ‘I love you, baby girl, and I know you’re looking down,’ and I just hope she rests easy,” said a cousin. “Thank you all for coming and please don’t forget to say her name.”

In addition to tearful speeches from friends and family, the vigil featured an address from Imam Mohamed Magid of the All Dulles Area Muslim Society, of which Nabra was a member and where she was just before she was killed early Sunday morning by a Salvadoran national police say experienced extreme road rage. Nabra was laid to rest earlier Wednesday following a funeral service at ADAMS.

Magid said the large crowd of all ages, religions and races that came out Wednesday night to support Nabra was a testament to her spirit.

“The love and the respect and the care this community has shown to all of us is overwhelming,” Magid said. “Everybody made us feel as if this is their own daughter, and I appreciate that very much.”

Other speakers included Rabbi Michael Holzman of the Northern Virginia Hebrew Congregation, as well as a representative of Restoration Church, located very near Nabra’s home on Becontree Lane.

Nabra was a sophomore at South Lakes High School, and the event was organized by the SLHS Muslim Student Association. Principal Kim Retzer spoke on behalf of the school.

“As we mourn the loss of Nabra, we delight in the fact that we were part of her journey and she touched our lives in a very meaningful way,” Retzer said. “We will remember her for the joy she brought us in the short time we knew her, for her sweet smile, for her love of family and friends, and for the way she united our school and our community.”

The community came together with an outpouring of signs, flowers and kind words during the vigil. A memorial book was signed by many of those who attended, and some made displays of their condolences through chalk artwork on the bricks at the plaza’s entrance.

Nada A., a Muslim woman from Reston who declined to provide her full last name, was one of those who left a message in chalk. After drawing a heart with “In Loving Memory – Nabra” etched inside, she said that while she didn’t know Nabra personally, she felt a connection with her.

“This is bringing people together and shattering any sort of boundaries; any sort of taboos; any racial, social or religious boundaries,” Nada said. “Everyone is just gathering for a girl whose life was just taken away too soon — it really is just the common factor.”

Romin Patel, who lives at Lake Anne, said he came out for the vigil because he was compelled to show his support for the community.

“We are one, there is no different race,” he said. “If we could just help each other out, it would be great for society as a whole.”

For more scenes and reactions from Wednesday’s vigil, see below.

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