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“My Husband was an Innocent Victim”

April 12, 2005

Dear Editor,

I am writing this letter to express my displeasure with the comments that I continue to read in the press regarding the murder of my husband, and father of three, Hector Bonilla.

In various stories the media continues to refer to Hector and Jonathan as "gang members or victims of a "gang-related" act of violence. This portrayal of my husband is damaging to his character. I do not want my children or anyone who knew Hector to remember him by this negative portrayal.

It saddens me to have my son come home from school asking, "Who is Limpy?" In a news report my husband Hector was referred to as "Limpy." In my home, Hector was never referred to as "Limpy."

Hector was always known as "dad" to his three children and I occasionally called him "Hec" for short. My family never called him "Limpy" and I detest the portrayal of him in the press in this way.

I understand that it is more sensational for the media to categorize the murder of both Hector and Jonathan as a "gang-related" homicide. By doing this it sends the message that somehow, someway Hector and Jonathan did something to deserve being killed.

The impact of labeling this crime as "gang-related" not only hurts my family, it also sends the message that only gang members are affected and the rest of the community should not be concerned.

This news angle misses the fact that many children, youth and adults have been affected by this crime and some of us will carry the pain and trauma for the rest of our lives. Would our society care more about the violence that has affected us if the newspaper headlines read, "Two Innocent Youth Gunned Down At A Party?"

In addition, the negative portrayal of both Hector and Jonathan as "gang members" is a racial stereotype that is damaging to my family. Unfortunately, many Latino and African American youth die violently in our county, but many of these youth are not gang members.

In 1998 a series of shootings took the lives of youth in Santa Monica, but most of those victims were not gang involved. In a double homicide in 1998 Anthony and Mark Juarez were killed and they did not even live in Los Angeles, much less belong to a gang. But their murders are still labeled as "gang-related." This desensitizes the general public from the crisis that plagues low income communities who suffer because of the neglect of youth violence.

The fact of the matter is that my husband Hector was an innocent victim to violence that has affected this community for a long time. Hector was not "gang banging" and was not armed with any type of weapon at the time of the incident, as verified by police.

Both Hector and I attended the 40th birthday party of a family member and never in our minds did we think something so terrible could happen in our own community. It is hard enough to have to witness the murder of my husband in cold blood. I should not have to be dealing with defending the character of my husband in the press.

The murder of Hector and Jonathan raises the total to 31 of youth that have been killed as a result of gun violence since 1989 in Santa Monica. Most of these murders have been of Latino and African American youth who were residents of the Pico Neighborhood.

Many in the community feel that the lives of low-income youth of color are not as important to City leaders. To this day our City government has not offered a reward for witnesses to come forward with information to help bring closure to this crime.

As a mother of three who will have to deal with the pain of loosing Hector for the rest of my life I have a few requests:

Please treat Hector and Jonathan fairly in the press. Both of these individuals were not committing any crime when they were murdered. Our families are directly affected by how you characterize our loved ones.

We expect the police to provide the same amount of attention to this crime as it has to the murder of tourists and victims who are not young Latino or African American. I want to acknowledge the Santa Monica Police Department for not categorizing the murder of Hector as "gang-related".

Finally, I want to thank all of you in the community that have made a financial contribution to help my family in this time of need. I have set up a trust fund to assist my three children in attaining the future educational support that both Hector and I were working hard to provide. Please send contributions to:

Check payable to: Krizna Ayala
PO Box 147
Santa Monica, Ca. 90406-147

Krizna Ayala

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