Community members gathered at the Soka Gakkai International – USA (SGI-USA) Community Center in the Pico Neighborhood Saturday to honor the memory of Eddie Lopez with a fair entitled “Building A Culture Of Peace.”
Lopez was a 15-year-old Santa Monica High School honor student and athlete who was gunned down and killed on February 28, 2006 near the community center.
Deputy Chief of Police Phillip Sanchez told the large crowd during the tree dedication, “It is so fitting that we would dedicate a tree to Eddie because really we’re here to celebrate his life and a tree continues to grow and so will Eddie’s spirit.”
One of Eddie’s friends, Bradley Condon, said, “I always know he’s watching down upon me and I trust he will be protecting me and guiding me to a better life.”
Martha Dio, who also lost her son to violence 20 months ago, stressed, “Nobody knows what we mothers went through. Something very good is going to happen because of the death of our sons.”
SGI’s Ian McIlraith told the fair participants to “make today’s event a departure for all of us to recognize the power we have to be an agent of change, an agent of peace.”
The plaque in front of the tree says: “In loving memory of Eddie Lopez, honor student, inspiring athlete and beloved friend. You are forever in our hearts. Eddie Lopez 1990-2006. This tree is dedicated to all youth who have left this world too early because of violence. Their lives will live on in our actions to help create a peaceful world.”
The fair’s organizer, Marc Sachnoff, stated, “As an organization focused on young people, the SGI-USA supports the United Nations International Decade for a Culture of Peace and non-violence for the children of the world. This untimely death of a beloved local youth has underscored our determination to establish a culture of peace in our own community so that we may prevent these tragedies in the future.”
The fair included interactive workshops on non-violence, music and performances by youth groups.