Who Are the 43?

On the night of September 26, 2014, in the city of Iguala, uniformed police ambushed five buses of students from Rural Teachers College in Ayotzinapa and another bus carrying a professional soccer team. Together with three unidentified gunmen, they shot and killed six people, wounded 40, and “disappeared” 43 students. One victim’s body was found in a field the next morning. 

His killers had cut off his face. 

Soldiers at the 27th Infantry Battalion army base, located less than two miles away and tasked with fighting organized crime, did not intercede. 

News of the attack was met initially with muted outrage, mostly because the reports out of Iguala, a highlands city of 110,000, were confusing. For several days, conflicting counts of the missing students circulated. It wasn’t until October 4, when state prosecutors announced that they had uncovered the first in a series of mass graves on the outskirts of Iguala that the national and international media descended on the region. 

When forensic workers confirmed that the first of the 30 charred human remains were not the missing students, anger and horror became widespread. What would follow was seven year of protests, discredited government investigations, and international outrage.  Evidence of collusion between local drug gangs, political leaders at every level of the government, local, state and federal police, and the Mexican army emerged that confirmed the 43 atrocity was a painfully common practice.

Holland Centennial Commons

Figures representing five Ayotzinapa normalistas in place in the Holland Centennial Commons, first floor. A sixth mirrored figure compels the viewer to "see yourself in the 43."

Next Stop: Gardner

The story of the 43 missing college students begins in the Holland Centennial Commons, first floor. The installation is spread across campus. The story continues in the Gardner Student Center. It is building #2 on the map.

The story of the 43 missing college students begins in the Holland Centennial Commons, first floor. The installation is spread across campus. The story continues in the Gardner Student Center.