A large red and orange feather was placed in the ground on a hill in Duboce Park at 3:33 p.m. Wednesday. It leaned like a reed in the wind while hundreds of friends and family surrounded it, holding hands, as Bryan “Feather Lynn” Higgins’ life support system was turned off at the hospital -- four days after he was critically injured in an assault.
About six minutes later, a speaker at the vigil announced that Higgins was dead and asked participants to take three deep breaths before breaking into song.
It was a moving ritual meant to memorialize Higgins, who police say was the victim of an attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon Sunday. He was admitted to the hospital after sustaining critical injuries in the assault near Duboce and Church streets.
It's still unknown what the weapon was or the circumstances that led to the assault.
Police have surveillance footage from a nearby business that shows the assault, Officer Gordon Shyy said, but will not be releasing it while investigators pursue the case.
After media reports showcased Higgins' picture, his family identified him at the hospital where doctors there told them that without life support, he was essentially dead.
For two days, friends and family came through the hospital to pay their respects before today's vigil.
Higgins, who was originally from Michigan and has a large network of friends there, was also memorialized at a vigil in that state at 6:33 p.m. local time today, one of his Michigan friends told The San Francisco Examiner.
"I'm extremely devastated by this news of one of my best friends from #Michigan, "Bryan Higgins" (tears)," Lendale Johnson tweeted.
Johnson said he was very close with Higgins and the death has devastated him.
One of the things Johnson will miss the most, he said, is that Higgins was one of his only friends that he could speak with in French.
Supervisor Scott Wiener, who represents the area where the attack occurred, posted a statement on his Facebook page that said "this tragic attack on a member of our community -- which will become a homicide when Bryan is taken off life support later today -- is another example of the very real public safety challenges we are facing in the Castro/Upper Market area."
Wiener also attended today's vigil.
Higgins husband, Brian Haggerty, spoke to the San Francisco Bay Guardian on Tuesday and said he appreciated the outpouring of support from family and the Radical Faerie community, which Higgins identified with. The community is composed generally of gay men looking for a spiritual connection to their sexuality, according to the website radfae.org.
Neither Haggerty nor police had any additional information as to what led to Higgins' assault, and as of this afternoon police are not investigating the incident as a hate crime.
Higgins's vigil was a somber event, with sun and plenty of wind. Multiple times, vases holding flowers on a table under a canopy were blown over, and the giant rainbow flag that was draped over the hilltop under the table blew up a few times.
One attendee expressed to The Examiner that he wondered why the media cared now, implying that earlier attacks on members of the gay community went uncovered.