EL CENTRO â€“ Rain was no obstacle for the Garza family who marched down Main Street accompanied by friends, family and community members, Wednesday evening during the 3rdÂ Annual MAG Coalition March/Walk for Peace & Justice for Martin Alberto â€œSmashBroâ€ Garza Candlelight Vigil & SmashBro Bear Drive.
Mothers & Men Against Gang Violence (MAG) Coalition was initiated in 2013 to prevent gang violence by organizing several outreach events and by educating the community.
â€œMy son was at the wrong place at the wrong time,â€ said Martin Garza Sr. â€œOur purpose is to bring awareness to the community and to let them know the streets arenâ€™t safe.â€
January 6, marked the three-year death anniversary of young Martin who was slain by a 19-year old gang member in 2013. The march ended at the El Centro Courthouse steps where the Garza family remembered their son Martin and sharing anecdotes with those present.
El Centro Mayor Jason Jackson presented the MAG with a proclamation declaring January 6, as Anti-Gang Awareness Day and expressed his respect towards the Garza familyâ€™s efforts in bringing awareness to the community against gang violence.
â€œWe, the El Centro City Council and myself support the Garza family and their efforts to raise awareness to not only the city of El Centro, but our community as whole in Imperial Countyâ€ said Jason Jackson, El Centro Mayor. â€œGang violence is a growing concern for public safety and the quality of lifeâ€ said Jackson.
Additionally, the Garza family received special recognitions from the offices of Senator Ben Hueso and Congressman Juan Vargas. Â MAG had previously received proclamations from the Imperial County Board of Supervisors, and cities of Imperial, El Centro and Brawley.
â€œI would like to recognize and commend the Mothers & Fathers Against Gangs Coalition for raising awareness of the realities of gang violence and how they impact our community, said Tomas Oliva, Field Rep for Congressman Juan Vargas. â€œThe measure of a person, family and community is not measured by the obstacles that they face, but how they react and deal with those obstacles,â€ said Oliva.
Subsequent to the vigil, the MAG Coalition held a reception at The Courtroom Restaurant where bears and cash donations were collected for the â€œSmashBro Bearâ€ drive and attendees enjoyed coffee and Rosca De Reyes (Mexican Bread) which was Martinâ€™s favorite.
â€œI have supported the SmashBro Drive since day one and feel wonderful to help those children who need comfort,â€ said Gabrielle Newton, supporter.
Bears are distributed to local agencies; CASA, WOVEN, House of Bread Ministries, Center for Family Solutions and local law enforcement agencies for children who have suffered domestic violence.
Accompanying the bear are a tag that reads: The SmashBro bear was inspired by Martin Alberto Garza (MAG) also known as Brother Bear. This bear is like Martin because he will always be there when you need a friend. He will be available 24/7 to give you “BIG BEAR HUGs,” endless smiles, and unconditional friendship. You can trust your SmashBro bear and confide in him when you need to talk. He will sit and cry with you and wipe your tears away. Best of all, he will be your BEST FRIEND! God Bless and Enjoy your SmashBro Bear!
MAG brings together parents, youth community partners, churches and educators to eradicate gang activity by spreading the message â€œThere Is No Room For Gangs.â€[envira-gallery id=”70449″]