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Archiving Grief Five Years After the Isla Vista Attacks

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Students gather on the University of California–Santa Barbara campus for a candlelight vigil for those affected by the tragedy in Isla Vista on May 24th, 2014.

Five years ago, a man’s trajectory into misogynistic beliefs and extremist Web forums culminated with him killing six people and wounding 13 others in a murderous rampage near the University of California–Santa Barbara. In the hours after uploading a despairing and hateful YouTube video announcing his attack, he stabbed three of his roommates to death, unsuccessfully attempted to gain entry to a sorority house, and shot numerous bystanders as he drove around Isla Vista, California, before taking his own life.

At the time, Lauren Trujillo was a sophomore at UCSB with an internship at a local library’s archives, when three of her sorority sisters were shot during the attack. In the mourning period that followed, Trujillo was asked by a former teaching assistant to join the Isla Vista Memorial Project, which was beginning to collect and preserve the mementos left at memorial sites: a postcard addressed to the National Rifle Association, a colorful bracelet of beads, a funerary message in a bottle, handwritten sticky notes left for the victims, banners of support and anger that hung around Isla Vista.

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