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Clad in White, Marching for Peace

Community members joined a Walk for Peace Saturday at South San Francisco High School to further awareness of the recent violence and promote peace.

More than a hundred community members wearing white participated in a meaningful walk Saturday meant to promote peace and honor the memories of the six murder victims in South San Francisco over the course of the past two years.

The started and ended at the South San Francisco High School auditorium. Members of the community, as well as officials, spoke before and after the 30 or so minute walk across town, inspiring and reminding the community the significance of being at the event.

Ayasha Haq, mother of , came up with the idea for the walk and held a large leadership role in the event, according to Michelle Vilchez, executive director at the Peninsula Conflict Resolution Center.

“All of you guys made it easy for me to say what I had to say. And that’s just ‘enough,’” Haq said. “I am going to fight until I can’t anymore,” Haq said of her efforts to help stop the violence. (A video clip of her speaking is attached to the right.)

Ramon Olmos’ brother was one of the victims of last year’s triple homicide. He also spoke at the event and thanked Haq for her efforts.

City councilmembers, Police Chief Mike Massoni, South San Francisco High School Principal Anthony Limoges and others spoke at the event. Vice Mayor Pedro Gonzalez spoke in Spanish for the group. 

“For too many, this has been a season of suffering,” said City Councilmember Kevin Mullins. “Today is about remembering those young people and their families and in helping the community to begin action.”

Saturday’s walk was just part of the community’s efforts to end violence, according to Mullins. He said the city has added more police positions, added a neighborhood response team, as well as the Community Coalition for Safe Neighborhoods.

The event lasted several hours, with some showing up as early as 9 a.m. to start setting up their handmade signs and posters and going until after noon with community resources and information available at that point.

“As a native born South San Franciscan, it hurts when acts like these happen,” said Police Chief Mike Massoni. “We are moving forward and standing together. And together we can do something good. This group is the start of something big.”

The day not only included city officials, but also students, family and friends of the victims – with most wearing shirts with pictures of their loved ones – and community members just wanting to help and support one another.

Richard Lopez, the senator at Skyline College’s student body, said he did not know the victims but wanted to help.

“Last week, I did 12 hours ahead of schoolwork just so I could do this today,” Lopez said. “I’m here mainly because I’m part of the student body and we’re here to serve the public good. Someone wanted help, so I try to help when others need it.”

As additions to the peace movement, Vilchez said the community has discussed parenting classes, youth classes, billboards and more, but nothing is final just yet.

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