Community members help launch summer of nonviolence campaign

Community members launch summer of nonviolence campaign

Community members affected by gun violence are coming together for a campaign to emphasize nonviolence to children this summer.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Sally Sanchez is all too familiar with the grip of gun violence and its effect on people.

“My son was taken from me on December 16, 2020,” she said.

Sanchez’s son, Antonio Jaramillo had his life taken just days before his 33rd birthday. Out of all the questions that followed his death, “What’s next?” was one of the toughest ones to answer.

“We didn’t know what our next step was. I mean, of course, there’s a funeral to plan. But after that, we didn’t know what was going to happen. We didn’t know the judicial process,” Sanchez said.

Soon afterward, Sanchez co-founded New Mexico Crusaders for Justice. This summer, they’re teaming up with the City of Albuquerque and Bernalillo County to help kids stay out of trouble.

“Youth are really driving the violence right now in the city. And we really want to keep away to keep them engaged in the community,” said Serena Fazio, who oversees the Violence Prevention and Intervention Division with Albuquerque Community Safety.

Fazio not only is a leader in the community. But she is also Jaramillo’s sister.

Starting in June, their efforts will come together in the “Summer of Nonviolence” campaign. The campaign is a series of workshops and events to help deter kids from violence.

“We’ll be tracking them throughout the journey,” Fazio said. “I am looking specifically for the youth that have been in trouble that have had those gun charges. I would really like to see them be the leaders and taking this pledge into the community and show that they can change their lives.”

Aside from following their progress individually, staff will also help them financially.

“We’re hoping by them seeing that they can have a little bit of money and support and resources, that they can see that their community does give into them what they do and that they can have a positive turnaround,” Fazio said.

Already, she says the Violence Intervention program has had success at West Mesa High School.

“One student specifically right now, she started with West Mesa last year. We actually met her while she was in handcuffs and was getting enrolled into the program. She had a 0.5% GPA and she is graduating this year,” Fazio said.

For Sanchez, her son lives on. She has a special bear that has her son’s last words.

It’s a reminder that the fight to end gun violence in her community is just beginning.

“He has one of the voicemails that I have for my son so I get to hear his voice when I need to. He also has a heartbeat. And he goes with me everywhere. He goes to work, he goes to the grocery store, wherever I am, you’ll see him with me,” Sanchez said.