Murder victims’ families rally with advocates for justice

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Many families consider Labor Day just one more holiday they have to spend without a loved one lost to violence in the metro.

“No justice, no peace!” is a phrase so simple – but the heartbreak is not.

“My son still has no justice.” That’s Manuelita Garcia. Her son, LeRoy Garcia, was murdered in 2017.

“These teenagers are kids killing kids. And she lost her life for nothing, for twenty dollars.” – Annette Herrera, the mother of Alana Gamboa, who was shot and killed in her car on the Fourth of July.

Frankie Williams, the widow of Carlos Baca, who was killed in 2016, points to their kids: “She was ten, she was six, she was three. He was fifteen months and I was pregnant with him when all this happened. Now, look how big they are and we still don’t have justice for this. This is not OK.”

Carlos’ brother, Joe was also murdered.

“He was nineteen and eighteen, babies still. their whole life ahead of them.” That’s Danneil Sanchez, the mother of a murder victim. Best friends Nicholas Ortega and Marcos Perez were killed at house party in June.

“Their lives were cut short for, for what? You know for stupid reasons.”

One of Ortega’s sisters rallied all of these family members for the “Stand for Justice” Labor Day rally.

“The gun violence has got to stop, it’s got to stop. You know, that’s all there is here in the state of New Mexico,” Manuelita Garcia said.

“I didn’t wake up to it until I lost mine. Now, I’m researching it and looking at how many kids have lost their lives and it’s so sad,” Sanchez said.

“Our thought is, if we can stop some of the teen violence, we can stop some of the adult violence too. But we’re gonna have to do it one step at a time,” said Deidra Wilson. She is the mother of Sydney Wilson, who was killed after she tracked down her stolen vehicle.

The Albuquerque Police Department’s website shows there have been 70 homicide cases so far this year. Investigators have solved 39 of them.

“That’s why we chant no justice, no peace. Because there is no peace, because we are not getting justice,” said Josette Otero, with New Mexico Crusaders for Justice.

This group already has the Crusaders’ support. The Crusaders are helping families navigate their loss and advocate for stronger laws.

“We’re here to support them. A lot of them come out to support the Crusaders and we wanted them to know they’re not alone,” Otero stated. “All the cars passing, they’re honking, they’re tired of the gun violence too. Our whole community is tired of the gun violence.”

“We want justice for everybody. If we could get it for everybody, we would. It’s gonna take time. It’s gonna take a lot of energy but we’re gonna make it. We’re gonna get through this,” Wilson said.

Every case is different. The goal is the same.

“We just want justice. We want the laws to change,” Herrera said.

“They’re not forgotten. They’re still in our hearts and our memories. We’re the ones who go home and cry at night for our families. We’re the ones who mourn for them,” said Frederica Garcia, a cousin of a murder victim. “I believe if we got justice, would that mask the pain? No, but it will help.”

The New Mexico Crusaders for Justice has plans for more events. Learn more by clicking here.