Snelgrove remembered at memorial protest

by Beacon Staff • October 26, 2005

Snelgrove was struck in the eye by a pepper-spray pellet a Boston Police officer fired into a crowd that had gathered around Fenway Park after the Red Sox' American League Championship Series victory on Oct.,"Emerson College students, faculty and staff gathered last Friday in the journalism department's newsroom to remember the one-year anniversary of the death of junior Victoria "Torie" Snelgrove.

Snelgrove was struck in the eye by a pepper-spray pellet a Boston Police officer fired into a crowd that had gathered around Fenway Park after the Red Sox' American League Championship Series victory on Oct. 20, 2004. Snelgrove, a broadcast journalism major, died the next day.

Now, a year later, public attention appears to be centered on the six Boston Police officers disciplined after Snelgove's death, the $5.1 million wrongful death settlement awarded to the Snelgrove family and the $10 million lawsuit filed against the manufacturer of the "less lethal" weapon. At the memorial, Snelgrove's friends and teachers gathered to focus on her life instead of her death.

A handful of Emerson students and several members of the college's faculty and staff occupied the 15 to 20 folding chairs set up in the newsroom during the 30-minute gathering.

Though not crowded with masses of people, the newsroom was full of emotion. By the end of the service, there were few dry eyes in the group.

The memorial featured speakers from the journalism faculty and the Center for Spiritual Life, as well as Snelgrove's friends and classmates. It concluded with a musical tribute by Noteworthy, Emerson's a capella choral group.

"We are not here to dwell on or memorialize what was a tragic moment in time," said David Overton, the journalism department acting chair who made opening statements at the service. "[We are here to] remember a period of time, albeit very short, that we were able to spend with Torie."

All those who spoke at the service emphasized Snelgrove's drive for success.

Journalism Professor Bob Clinkscale described Snelgrove as "a front-rower," pointing out that she made sure to sit in the front row of an early morning class despite being a commuter student.

As an aspiring entertainment reporter, Snelgrove spent a great deal of her time in the journalism department's newsroom, where she worked to achieve her goals for the future, according to Clinkscale.

"The best way to remember Victoria is to take our hopes and dreams and wrap them around her," Clinkscale said.

Rachel Gabrielsen, a senior broadcast journalism major, also spoke in the service and offered reflections on Snelgrove's life.

"When Torie entered a room, there was more light in it than before," said Gabrielsen, the news director at Emerson's WEBN news. She worked with Snelgrove, who was a reporter, anchor and writer for the station last year.

Gabrielsen described Snelgrove's friendly and loving personality and said she "was never without a smile."

The local Boston media entered and exited the service freely, snapping pictures during speakers' remarks and the moment of silence led by Rabbi Al Axelrad.

Though some reporters stayed to gather video footage of the event and interview participants afterward, most of the photographers arrived, took a few pictures and then left.

There were seemingly no restrictions on the actions of the media or their potential interference with the service.

Most students felt the media's behavior was better at Friday's memorial than it had been in the past.

Emerson alumnus Bonnie Bryden, a journalism major who graduated in 2005 and returned for the service, said she felt reporters were insensitive last year as they questioned and photographed students mourning Snelgrove.

"They were much better than last year, more respectful," Bryden said.

Some even said they thought the media attention was necessary.

"We invited [the media] to be here today," Gabrielsen said in a later interview. "It's important, something that affected Boston, affected the nation."

Requesting media coverage, Gabrielsen said, was an attempt to make clear the purpose of the gathering.

"We wanted people to know that it's not an attack on police," she said. "It's not an attack on anything. It's about remembering our friend."

Many students interviewed said they agreed that having a time to remember Snelgrove was important.

"It helps people deal with the situation and gives them peace," said senior Jacqueline Emerson, an organizational and political communication major and representative for the Class of 2006. "It's really about showing how we came together. Torie was a part of Emerson College and we don't want her to be forgotten."

Clinkscale emphasized the profound impact Snelgrove had on the Emerson community and beyond.

He said, "The world is a poorer place without Victoria, but a better place because she was here."

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