Peace Walk

Children and adults marched from Villa-Parke Community Center to Jackie Robinson Park during a Cesar Chavez peace walk in Pasadena on Saturday. The rally also honored slain Florida teen Trayvon Martin. (Raul Roa / Staff Photographer / March 31, 2012)

It was a day to recognize Cesar Chavez, but some Pasadena residents marched for two African-American teenagers who were recently shot and killed.

Saturday’s peace walk brought out more than 100 students and adults to Villa Parke Community Center to commemorate Chavez, the civil rights leader who fought for the rights of farm workers and migrants. Some wore stickers reading "I am Trayvon Martin," referring to the unarmed 16-year-old killed by a Florida security guard in February. Others held bright yellow signs demanding justice for Kendrec McDade, 19, an unarmed robbery suspect killed by Pasadena police officers March 24.

“It’s common practice for local law enforcement, here in L.A. and across the country, to respond with violence anytime there’s an incident involving black or brown people,” said Victor Quintero, a 24-year-old Los Angeles resident. “Violent crimes in our community disproportionally affect us.”

Quintero, who held a sign calling the police officers who shot McDade "guilty," said he was unsatisfied with the community meeting that Pasadena Police Chief Philip Sanchez held Saturday morning.

“Sanchez said at the meeting that there was no imminent threat when they were called to the scene, yet their first response was to fire at McDade,” he said. “I believe that’s really the response of law enforcement when there’s colored youth involved.”

Sanchez participated in the walk, along with Pasadena city council members Chris Holden and Jacque Robinson.

Holden called the recent incident a “tragedy,” but said the walk was a positive step toward pulling the community together.

It was a chance “to hear each other’s concerns and to understand where we can make a difference, individually, for a change,” he said. “And to know that there’s a way to be successful at accomplishing change in a peaceful way.”

Throughout the walk, which started at the community center on East Villa Street and ended at Robinson Park on Fair Oaks Avenue, people shouted ‘Sí, se puede,’ a term Chavez coined meaning "Yes, we can."

Mary Torregrossa said she came from Baldwin Park to walk for peace in Pasadena. She recognized Martin's case, but said there are others also deserve public attention.

“God bless Travyon Martin and his family, but we here in Pasadena know people who have been shot,” said Torregrossa, 55. “Everyone now knows about things that happen. It can’t get swept under the rug so easily.”

Before the walk Victor Griego, president of Diverse Strategies for Organization, gave at a keynote speech about Chavez’s mission. He said there is a false perception that blacks and Latinos do not get along. If Chavez were alive today, he said, the activist would recognize the deaths of both McDade and Martin.

“What would Cesar Chavez do? Cesar would be wearing a hoodie,” he said. “Cesar would be leading the march for Trayvon Martin.”

The commemoration and walk were sponsored by El Centrol de Accion Social in Pasadena.


Kendrec McDade: How an unarmed 19-year-old died in a hail of police bullets

Pasadena police officers involved in shooting on paid leave

 -- Tiffany Kelly, Times Community News

Twitter: @LATiffanyKelly