Families gather to honor loved ones on Day of Remembrance

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – People gathered Sunday at Roosevelt Park to honor loved ones lost to gun violence. 

“Today, I don’t want it to be sad, we want it to be a day of joy, remembering their life,” said Alicia Otero, co-founder of New Mexico Crusaders for Justice. 

Most of the group is made up of mothers who have buried their children. 

“I think with everybody getting together, with the city coming and joining us with this, it shows that we have made an impact. And we are out there, and we are going to have these families try to be with us when we’re fighting legislation when we’re out here doing our rallies,” said Josette Otero, another co-founder of New Mexico Crusaders for Justice. 

Sunday’s event is a Day of Remembrance for their sons and daughters, and other homicide victims across the state. 

Members of several city departments joined. For example, the Albuquerque Police Department and the city’s Community Safety Department. 

“It takes the community, right? And we’re part of that, but also everybody that you’re seeing here, I think is turning out to make sure that we are supporting one another. But we’re also supporting this healing process,” said Jeffery Bustamante, ACS Deputy Director of Violence Prevention and Intervention. 

Otero remembers how alone she felt when her son, Kyle Martinez, was shot and killed in 2020. 

Now, she tries to fill that same void for other families experiencing the unthinkable. 

“We know their pain, and I’m glad that they are here, because they know that they’re not alone. And that is one of the things that we strive for, to let these people know they are not alone,” said Otero. 

The New Mexico Crusaders for Justice has morphed their mission from just support to advocacy. The group has been a staple at the Roundhouse during legislative sessions, pushing for anti-crime legislation. They even called for a special session on crime in 2021, but it never came. 

“I’m glad that the governor is finally opening her eyes to what has happened, right? I mean, we went to her two years ago, and asked her to, you know, get some crime bills passed, let’s hold these criminals accountable. And our cries fell on deaf ears with our legislators, with our governor,” said Sally Sanchez, a co-founder of New Mexico Crusaders for Justice. 

While they’ll keep their fight going in the next session, Sunday was about the good times. The memories they hold onto and their motivation.

“It’s our voices, we are our kids’ voices, and we need to continue being them,” said Otero. 

Monday evening the New Mexico Crusaders for Justice will have a candlelight vigil in Albuquerque, at New Beginning Church from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.