EL CENTRO â€“ The Garza family sustained a live changing tragic event that could have destroyed their will to live with the murder of their son, Martin Alberto Garza, by gang violence. Instead, the Garza family opted to be proactive instead ofÂ paralyzedÂ by their grief of Martinâ€™s untimely death.
Joining these efforts were the Imperial County Board of Supervisors who proclaimed January 6, as â€œAnti-Gang Awareness Dayâ€ during the December 22 board meeting. The board pledged to continue working together to stop gang violence, encourage involvement in anti-gang prevention activities, and help reduce the number of gang related deaths.
â€œI remember some of the testimonies during his ceremony, they really struck me because he was an exceptional boy,â€ said Raymond Castillo, D-5 Supervisor. â€œI particularly remember one story where Martin was driving to San Diego and there were farm workers working on the fields and he (Martin) said, ‘there are my brothers’. Martin worked in the fields during that summer so he could relate to these farm workers.â€
Mothers & Men Against Gang Violence (MAG) Coalition was initiated in 2013 to prevent gang violence by organizing several outreach events. They have actively organized several outreach presentations and intervention efforts by educating the community.
MAG brings together parents, youth community partners, churches, and educators to eradicate gang activity by spreading the message there is no room for gangs.
â€œI am glad we are keeping his (Martin) memory alive and preventing another young man from dying the same way. Martin didnâ€™t die in vain, his memory continues through this coalition,â€ said Castillo.
As the three year anniversary approaches of Martinâ€™s death, the family is taking a more active approach by partnering with city governments, elected officials, non-profits, educational institutions, businesses, and law enforcement agencies to transcend a clear message: JUST SAY NO!
â€œWe (MAG) work very hard to make sure that no more lives will be lost,â€ said Yulil Alonzo-Garza, MAG founder and mother to Martin. â€œI know this is only the beginning and we are taking steps. Â I know that through the recognitions we are creating awareness and reaching out to the communitiesâ€ said Garza.