Hunts Point vigil calls for end to killings
Over 100 people gathered yesterday to mourn outside the Barretto Street building where 15-year-old Destiny Sanchez was found strangled to death and doused in bleach over the Thanksgiving weekend. Mourners brought candles, flowers and teddy bears to the vigil that was arranged in front of the family’s apartment.
“It’s beyond tragic and sad right now,” said Evelyn Torres, a friend of the victim’s family, and member of Bronx community organization Foxy Family, holding back tears. “We’re all mothers and I’m speechless. She was a beautiful young lady who had so much going for her.”
Torres rushed to hug a Sanchez family member who arrived at the vigil as the victim’s friends and family addressed the crowd through a megaphone.
“We can’t have this all the time, people. There’s too much death going on. We all have to live,” said Jason Deleon over the megaphone. “We can’t have sorrow all the time – not for this, not for little girls. She still had her whole life ahead of her . We’re losing too many people out here for ridiculous, ridiculous reasons.”
After two more speakers gave prayers, the crowd began a silent march up Barretto Street and down Spofford Avenue. Officers from the 41st Precinct blocked traffic so marchers could use the streets.
As the march turned down Hunts Point Avenue, the silence was broken with intermittent chants of “We want justice,” and “Stop the violence.”
Onlookers joined the march as it passed, swelling the crowd to about 200, according to one police estimate. The procession then continued onto Garrison Avenue, and down Faile Street to Lafayette Avenue before looping back onto Hunts Point Avenue and back to the victim’s apartment where the march had begun.
“This has been happening a lot lately and it’s not a good thing,” said Maria Rosa, with her 12-year-old daughter. “My little girl is afraid to go to the store by herself. They can’t come out here with phones or new sneakers. They’re afraid.”
When the marchers returned to the sidewalk vigil, more speakers paid their respects.
“We have a lot of things we need to work on,” said Earl Skinner, the Point Community Development Corp.’s after-school coordinator. “This is not over. Oh my god, in two months how many people got killed? How many people have gotten hurt, murdered?”
“The community came together to take back Hunts Point, denouncing this violence,” said Rodrigo Starz, member of the hip-hop duo Rebel Diaz, who helped organize the rally. “As a community we will not accept a 15-year-old girl being beaten and strangled on our streets.”
The crowd later began to thin, but the Sanchez family and their friends remained at the vigil.
The victim’s step-uncle, Luis Vega, was arrested shortly after the murder on charges of endangering the welfare of a child, according to court documents. Vega was reported to have been drinking alcohol with the victim before her murder, and the NYPD is listing him as a person of interest in the homicide. Vega’s bail was set at $1,500. His next court date is set for Nov. 29.