BRAWLEY, Calif. – The devastating and unexpected death of a family member inspired the birth of an organization focused on curbing gang-related violence.
Mothers Against Gangs, or MAG, celebrated a success Tuesday when Imperial Valley cities proclaimed January 6th as Anti-Gang Awareness Day. Yulil Alonzo-Garza of Brawley lost her teenage son to gang-violence three years ago. But this Tuesday she celebrated what she calls a personal victory against Imperial Valley gangs as cities Brawley and Calexico took a step toward awareness.
“We have been working on asking cities to join our efforts and asking them to proclaim a day in 2016 as an anti-gang awareness day,” said Alonzo-Garza.
January 6th is the same day her late son Martin Alonzo Garza was murdered in a gang-related attack in the city of El Centro.
Garza says instead of suffering she continues her efforts through her MAG organization in order to help others avoid the same loss her family experienced.
“To help the youth and their families be more aware of what they can do to prevent their children from getting involved in gang activity,” Alonzo-Garza said.
Brawley Council Mayor Donnie Wharton said the day was proclaimed in recognition of Alonzo-Garza’s efforts and out of respect for the community.
“Number one, it really is near and dear because we’ve had a Brawley resident, a Brawley family, that’s really behind bringing this awareness through their own personal experience,” Wharton said.
Alonzo-Garza says cities of Imperial and Calipatria already made the same proclamation and El Centro did it on Wednesday evening. Brawley Police Commander Brett Houser praises Alonzo-Garza for founding MAG in response to her family’s loss.
“It is getting parents involved, making them aware that these things can happen. They have to be monitoring their kids,” said Houser.
Alonzo-Garza hopes the MAG organization inspires more anti-gang programs to help save lives.
“We hope this will be the beginning between the city and MAG coalition and the families of the community, so that we can start forming programs and committees to see how we can deter these kids and minimize the gang activity,” Alonzo-Garza said.