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Central Coast leaders and community members hold panel to end violence

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (KION-TV): Sept. 24 marks 30 years since the first Watsonville Peace and Unity March took place.

Central Coast families who have lost a loved one because of gun violence and community members held a panel discussion at the Resource Center for Non-Violence in Santa Cruz to remember the victims that have died.

Rosa De Ramirez, lost her son, Antonio Ramirez Valdivia to gun violence in Watsonville back in 1994, and she said she remembers that day like if it was yesterday.

"He had a lot of friends, but a lot of the friends were not good friends," said De Ramirez. "And that's what happens when young people have a lot of friends and they lead them to the wrong way."

Following the death of her, 19-year-old son, De Ramirez decided to lead the Watsonville Peace and Unity march to keep his memory alive.

"Very, very important because I like for the community, all the communities and for the parents to really be alert for their kids," said De Ramirez. "Boys or girls, I like to see a lot of change, like it has been doing since the march has been going through."

County leaders said the Watsonville Peace and Unity march is not only about remembering loved ones who've passed away, but also how to address violence in communities on the central coast.

"The number are almost over 100 people that have lost their lives since this March started," said Monterey County Supervisor, Luis Alejo. "And we know that every year, new young people, coming into adolescence in adulthood, that we need to continue to teach young people about the impact of violence in our community and also hopefully prevent."

Alejo said this march aims to bring together people from different regions of the Central Coast.

Community organizers also said local non-profits take part in the marches to offer their services to victims of violence.

There will be two peace and unity marches taking place within the next month. The first one will take place in East Salinas on Oct. 7 while the Peace and Unity March in Watsonville will take place on November 5.

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Nataly Gutierrez


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