In response to a rash of shootings and the persistence of gang related homicide in Santa Monica’s Pico Neighborhood youth, parents, and community leaders are holding a vigil and procession today to bring healing to the community.
The June 7 shooting rampage that 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 Santa Monica Vigil for Peace & Healing will begin Sunday, June 16 at 6 pm at the corner of Kansas and Yorkshire, the focal point for the Friday shooting rampage that ended at Santa Monica College.
Procession organizers plan to follow a route which will memorialize the fallen and bring healing to the community.
— Procession will start at the corner of Kansas and Yorkshire.
— It will proceed south on Stewart Street to Pico Boulevard, then proceed west on Pico.
— First stop will be on 23rd and Pico (Near Virginia Avenue Park lot).
— Second stop will be on 19th and Pico (Near Santa Monica College).
— Continuing west on Pico we will go north on 17th Street to Michigan Ave.
— It will go west on Michigan to 16th St. where vigil will end.
“Although we have reduced gang and youth violence in recent years, the incidents of the past few days are a wake up call that our City must not regress in its effort to address youth and gang violence,” said SMMUSD Board of Education member Oscar de la Torre.
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.
The Santa Monica Vigil for Peace and Healing is co-sponsored by the Pico Youth & Family Center (PYFC), Saint Anne’s Catholic Church, Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice (CLUE).