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SMMUSD school board member, PYFC founder, and Pico neighborhood resident Oscar de la Torre spoke at Sunday evening's vigil.
Photo by Margaret Molloy
SMMUSD school board member, PYFC founder, and Pico neighborhood resident Oscar de la Torre spoke at Sunday evening's vigil.

News, Santa Monica, Pico Boulevard

Pico Neighborhood Comes Together At Sunday Vigil

Hundreds of people honored the lives of those lost in the recent Santa Monica shootings.
Photo by Margaret Molloy
Hundreds of people honored the lives of those lost in the recent Santa Monica shootings.
The procession traveled westbound on Pico Boulevard in Santa Monica.
Photo by Margaret Molloy
The procession traveled westbound on Pico Boulevard in Santa Monica.
A child holds a candle as part of the procession.
Photo by Margaret Molloy
A child holds a candle as part of the procession.
The vigil was in response to the fatal shootings in the Pico neighborhood.
Photo by Margaret Molloy
The vigil was in response to the fatal shootings in the Pico neighborhood.
The procession started where the June 7 violent rampage began at Kansas and Yorkshire.
Photo by Margaret Molloy
The procession started where the June 7 violent rampage began at Kansas and Yorkshire.
A man holds a newspaper clipping of one of the victim's killed.
Photo by Margaret Molloy
A man holds a newspaper clipping of one of the victim's killed.

Posted Jun. 17, 2013, 9:04 am

Brenton Garen / Editor-in-Chief

Santa Monica's Pico neighborhood youth, parents, and community leaders  held a vigil and procession Sunday evening to bring healing to the community.

It was held in response to the rash of shootings and the persistence of gang related homicide in the neighborhood.

Click here to watch video from the event.

Oscar de la Torre, Pico Youth & Family Center founder and SMMUSD school board member, said he hoped the event would erase the negative imagery of last week and replace it with positivity, love, and peace.

"It’s a wake up call to the city leadership that we must not regress in supporting our young people, that we must not regress in giving young people hope and providing services to prevent gang violence and to ensure that Santa Monica is best known not for the violence that affected our neighborhoods but for the good will and the love and the unity of our community," de la Torre told The Mirror.

Jaime Cruz, a longtime Pico neighborhood resident, spoke about remembering those who have been killed.

"Since 1986, I’ve noted 60 people who have been killed to the senseless violence in the Santa Monica Pico neighborhood," Cruz told The Mirror. "Often times we don’t humanize these individuals. We don’t depict them as being somebody’s child or father, so we want to acknowledge that and bring their name and dignity to these folks."

The June 7 shooting rampage resulted in the death of six residents was followed by two shooting incidents -- one Sunday afternoon and one Tuesday morning -- that left one dead and two others with serious injuries.

Gil Verastegui's tragic death on Tuesday, June 11 marked the 49th time since 1989 a family has suffered a loss due to homicide in Santa Monica, the majority of these homicides occurring within an eight block "red zone" in the Pico Neighborhood. 

The procession started at the corner of Kansas and Yorkshire, the focal point for the June 7 shooting rampage that ended at Santa Monica College. It proceeded down Pico Boulevard to the site where Verastegui was killed last Tuesday.

The event was co-sponsored by the Pico Youth & Family Center (PYFC), Saint Anne's Catholic Church, Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice (CLUE).

The Pico Youth & Family Center (PYFC) along with various community groups have also called for a Townhall Meeting on Violence Prevention scheduled for Thursday, June 20 at 6 pm to engage the community in a discussion on proactive policy solutions to violence and trauma. 

"We invite residents, youth, clergy, parents and community leaders from Santa Monica and beyond to support our movement for peace, unity and social justice. We cannot let the tragic death of our community members happen without a renewed commitment to building a safer community," said Francisco Juarez, PYFC Board Member and Vietnam Veteran.

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Comments

Jun. 17, 2013, 9:15:49 pm

June said...

At the vigil they said they have follow up event planned for June 25, where can we find out more about that?

Jun. 18, 2013, 8:47:15 am

stewart said...

Vice President Joe Biden will deliver remarks Tuesday on the Obama administration's continued efforts to reduce gun violence. Biden is scheduled to speak at the White House at 1:15 p.m. ET.

Jun. 18, 2013, 2:25:48 pm

stewart said...

Vice President Joe Biden tried Tuesday to rally Congress to act on gun control legislation, saying that "the country has changed and [politicians] will pay a political price for not getting engaged and dealing with gun safety." "As proud as the president and I am of the progress we have made, we need Congress to act," Biden said in a speech delivered at the White House. "The American people are demanding it. We need to make sure that the voices of the ones we lost are the loudest ones we here in this fight." Specifically, Biden was referring to politicians like Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), who saw her approval rating plummet after she voted against legislation that would expand background checks. Sen. Jeff Flake's (R-AZ) and Sen. Mark Begich's (D-AK) ratings also took a nosedive. On the otherside, Democrats in red states, like Sens. Mary Landrieu (LA) and Kay Hagan (NC), got a slight boost in their approval ratings after they voted in favor of the gun control legislation. The vice president also released a set of federal guidelines Tuesday for developing high quality emergency operations for schools, higher education institutions and places of worship. "We made sure the guide reflects all the lessons we've learned over the years," he said.

Jun. 18, 2013, 2:43:51 pm

stewart said...

Vice President Joe Biden said Tuesday that the administration has not given up on gun control legislation that would expand background checks on purchases of new firearms in order to reduce gun violence. "I'm here to tell you that the most important message to take from here today is that the president and I and our team have not given up," Biden said in a speech at the White House. "Our friends in the House and Senate have not given up." TPM.com

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