Candle march, vigil brings awareness to domestic violence

B Ivan Cazares

The East Los Angeles Women’s Center promoted domestic violence awareness with special speakers and performances during “Mujeres de Paz – 17th Annual Candlelight March and Vigil.”

Approximately 100 participants marched down Avenida Cesar Chavez on Thursday. They marched from Mednik Avenue, holding signs and chanting “No more violence!”

At the front of the crowd were members of the ELAC football team who were encouraged to support the ELAWC by their coach.
The march ended at the center of ELAC’s Performing and Fine Arts Complex.

The ELAWC’s Executive Director Barbara Kappos started the vigil with a moment of silence for those affected by domestic violence. Kappos thanked those who participated and gave a special thanks to ELAC’s Feminist Majority Club for its participation.

“Every nine seconds a woman is assaulted in the U.S.,” Kappos said.

Athletic Director Al Cone was one of several ELAC faculty members to discuss this issue. “Three women a day lose their lives due to domestic violence,” Cone said. “Domestic violence isn’t a women’s issue, it’s a human rights issue.”

“Domestic violence is the most underreported crime,” Cone said. He encouraged domestic violence victims to speak up and “break the silence.”

Cone used the recent Ray Rice incident, in which the football player was caught on video knocking his wife out cold in an elevator.

It’s an incident that’s hard to miss due to the extensive media coverage it’s receiving, and demonstrates that domestic violence knows no bounds. It can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender or economic situation, Cone said.

ELAC Vice President of Student Services Oscar Valeriano thanked the women’s center for its years of service.

Detective Mossis Castillo of the Los Angeles Police Department also spoke and encouraged the crowd to expose violence.

Musician Alejandra Leyva performed her song “Mujer Trabajadora (Hard Working Woman)” which is about the adversities women face. She followed through with her performance even though there were technical difficulties.

Members of the community stood up to share their testimonies after her performance. Among the speakers were some teens struggling with domestic violence and a woman whose sister was murdered by her husband.

East Side Spirit and Pride club adviser Dennis Sanchez talked about his niece Janay Estica who was recently murdered by her boyfriend.

Flowers where distributed toward the end of the vigil and left at an altar. The Aztec performance group Xochipilli ended the vigil by leading participants in “la danza de amistad” (friendship dance). Xochipilli’s drummers played while participants held hands and went around in circles.

ELAWC can trace its origins back to The East Los Angeles Rape and Battery Hotline, which was established Feb. 13, 1976.

Victims of domestic violence can receive help from the ELAWC by calling (323) 526-5819.

On Oct. 25 a march will be held in honor of Estica. Participants will meet at ELAC’s stadium at 9 a.m.

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