Candles light way for demonstrators

STOP THE VIOLENCE—An altar honors the victims of domestic violence as part of the 14th Annual Candlelight Mujeres de Paz demonstration. CN/Edgar Lopez

By Jane Fernandez

Raising awareness about domestic violence issues was the topic of the day at the 14th Annual Candlelight Vigil: Mujeres de Paz event, last Thursday.

The East-Los-Angeles-based, Women’s Support Center organized and participated in the walk that drew a large contingent of East Los Angeles College students and faculty.

“Stop the violence. Violence is not the answer,” said a woman, as she marched down the street following the beat of the Aztec drums that led the crowd.

ELAC students and many other supporters gathered around “La Virgen de Guadalupe,” mural on the corner of Mednik and Avenida Cesar Chavez and walked toward ELAC.

“The virgin is a protector of women,” said Marilyn Ladd in response to why the mural was chosen as the beginning location.

Ladd is a professor at ELAC and a Violence Intervention Team member at the Women’s Support Center. The walk started with a presentation by Aztec dancers, as a blessing to the virgin.

Shortly after, the crowd of about 150 marched down Avenida Cesar Chavez, holding signs with messages against violence, such as “no more violence,“ and “fight for no violence.”  Demonstrators held lit candles that were provided by the East L.A. Women’s Support Center in honor of the victims of domestic violence.

The crowd of dancers, lights and signs caught the attention of people passing by as they honked their horns, shouted back in agreement or waved to the crowd and gave them thumbs up. Most of the attendees had personal reasons for being part of the walk.

“A family member (of mine) is going through domestic violence. I want her to open her eyes one day and see what she is putting herself and her child through. That is why I am here,” said Jennifer Arroyo, ELAC student.

The walk ended at the Performing and Fine Arts Center court yard in front of an temporary altar dedicated to victims of domestic violence. There, the crowd enjoyed more performances by the Aztec dancers.

Soon after, Tyree Wieder, ELAC interim president addressed the crowd. “This is a very special and important program. This is a time for awareness,” she said.

Victims of domestic violence gave speeches and made their message clear, that violence should never be an option to deal with anger and frustration.

“She didn’t deserve this,” said Maritza Angelica Solis, speaking of her sister who was gunned down by her boyfriend in front of her mother.

Her sister was only 23 years old. “We knew something was wrong, but she never shared anything with us.”

ELAC student and a domestic violence victim Angel Toscano concluded the list of speakers by informing the crowd that “if anyone needs help, they should seek help. It doesn’t make them weaker, it makes them stronger.”

The vigil was sponsored by ELAC, the ELAC Feminist Club and the Campus Violence Intervention Team.

The East L.A. Women’s Support Center, located in G8-127, provided all the funds for the event. The event concluded by having attendants whose birthdays are in October, say a word in remembrance of victims and leaving a flower at the altar.

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