By: Mario Conde
Celebrating the life of Martin Alberto Garza and the passing of a resolution by the California State Assembly declaring January as Gang Awareness and Prevention Month, the non-profit Mothers and Men Against Gangs Coalition held their Gang Awareness and Prevention Benefit Dinner on Friday, January 5th.
Community members gathered at Gobis Restaurant in Heber to celebrate the achievements of what MAG Coalition has done for the youth of the Imperial Valley the years the organization has been active. The event was also a celebration of the approval of a resolution at the State Assembly on January 3rd declaring this month as Gang Awareness Month.
The keynote speaker of the event was former Los Angeles Mayor and Candidate for Governor of California, Antonio Villaraigosa.
The proposal to have a Gang Awareness and Prevention month was brought forward due to the tremendous advocacy efforts of Yulil Alonso-Garza and Martin Garza who founded the Mothers and Men Against Gangs (MAG) Coalition following the death of their son, Martin Alberto Garza, at the hands of a gang member.
The organization and their partners understand all too well the danger gangs pose to our communities; targeting vulnerable youth, destroying families, ruining lives and taking the lives of innocent victims unaffiliated with gang activity. The coalition’s outreach programs include, but are not limited to, 5K events, scholarships, anti-bullying presentations and vigils.
Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia presented Assembly Concurrent Resolution 134 before his fellow lawmakers for a unanimous vote declaring January 2018 as Gang Awareness and Prevention Month in California.
“The spread of gang violence is preventable and the solution lies within all Californians, working together. We all have a role to play; with courage and inner strength, our communities have the responsibility to stand up to deter violence through education and collaboration. We need to help encourage our youth and families to strengthen their bonds both at home and within our neighborhoods,” expressed Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia.