What went unspoken at this sad event, following the tragic death of an outer East Portland 13-year-old, could fill a book …
Almost fifty people gather for this candlelight vigil held for 13-year-old Julio Cesar Marquez, at the East Portland Community Center.
Story and photos by David F. Ashton
This tragic story has no happy ending. 13-year-old Julio Cesar Marquez was found murdered – police say he was shot and beaten to death – on the morning of November 7, as reported at East Portland News (CLICK HERE to see our coverage of the event).
A widely-distributed invitation to a candlelight vigil on his behalf, organized by The Latino Network, at the East Portland Community Center on November 21, read, “Community members throughout Portland will come together to honor the brief life of Julio Cesar Marquez, Portland’s most recent – and tragically young – victim of violence”.
In the courtyard of the community center, about fifty people crowded under two canopies to protect them from the steady rain. Representatives of the City, County, and other organizations spoke.
Portland City Commissioner Nick Fish listens to other speakers after he gives his condolences, and challenges those present to support community organizations to help stem youth violence.
“We need to support childhood programs and all of the organizations that are important to us,” Portland City Commissioner Nick Fish told those assembled for the vigil.
Fish expressed his sadness for the family, and noted the anger in the community that a person of such a young age was murdered. “We renew our commitment to support these community organizations,” Fish said as he concluded his remarks. “I submit that Julio’s death will not be in vain, and his legacy will be in our hearts, as we go forward to love all the children.”
After the vigil, Parks Commissioner Fish told East Portland News, “Portland Parks & Recreation and the East Portland Community Center were honored to host the vigil. I was honored to be asked to speak.
“It’s hard to find ‘silver lining’ in an event like this,” Fish added. “But, as I said at the vigil, if we all recommit to supporting and loving all of our children and making sure they have healthy activities in their lives, perhaps something can come out of this tragedy.”
Those at the vigil listen as the slain youth’s caseworker speaks.
Caseworker speaks out
Tori Lopez, Julio Marquez’ caseworker – he was in the juvenile probation system, reportedly for thefts and an assault on a fellow student at Ron Russell Middle School – had poignant remarks for the somber audience after she began, “[His death] hit me really hard because I didn’t see this one coming – not that you ever see any of them coming, but he was just really engaging.”
She continued, “When violence happens, it should not matter the color of our skin, eye color, religion, our gender, or our class. This tragedy in our community affects all of us. We must come together as a community to stop the violence, and to take action to be part of our children’s lives and become involved.”
The caseworker admonished, “If you’re a parent, become involved in your child’s life. Take time to get to know them – and their friends. If you don’t have a child, become a mentor. Now, more than ever, a child needs an adult in their life. It doesn’t take much; love is free.”
Lopez added, “Today our kids need positive role models. If they don’t, there will surely be others to fill the void – and, more than likely, this will result in destructive behavior.”
The victim’s older brother, James Baxter, admonishes families to look after their younger kids, so they don’t get involved in gangs.
The slain teen’s older brother, James Baxter, also spoke, praising the young man’s athletic and academic achievements, and love of skateboarding – a skill he honed at the community center.
“I am sorry we are gathered here today under these circumstances,” Baxter began. “This is a very important time for us, as my mother and my stepfather remember their son, and for me and my brothers and my sister to remember our younger brother; for his aunts and uncles to remember their nephew.”
Baxter continued, “He never deserved this. Nobody ever deserves this no matter what they’re doing in life.” Later, he admonished, “Please take care of the younger ones. Please, take care of your family. Show them the right direction; show them the important things in life. Because, in the end, all you have is yourself, and your family.”
Baxter spoke at length about community coming together; but then he forcefully stated, “Gangs are not okay. Anybody who knows any gang members, or aspires to be like that – please think twice. Because [of gangs] on November 7, I lost my 13-year-old brother, who was loved very much by so many.”
Former Multnomah County Commissioner Serena Cruz Walsh asks people to support The Latino Network’s Community Response Fund.
Former County Commissioner asks for support
The next speaker, Serena Cruz Walsh, a former Multnomah County Commissioner, spoke.
“This is about the loss of a little boy. When you were 13, think about what you are doing. Think about how smart you were, how tough you were, how you [think you] can do anything. But [Julio] didn’t get the chance to find out … We need to make sure that there is not another Julio amongst us.”
Cruz Walsh continued, “On behalf of the Board of the Latino Network … find out what you can do to get engaged. One of the most challenging situations to deal with is when a financial crisis that comes into play; that’s why we have the Community Response Fund – to provide financial support to victims of violence in our community and their families. Donations to the fund can be made to the Latino Network.” [CLICK HERE to open the link to their contact page]
When the speakers had all concluded, the assembled group moved inside one of the meeting rooms provided by the community center for refreshments and to console one another.
Officials have said the potential motives for this murder remain unknown.
Portland Police Bureau’s Crime Stoppers continues to offer a cash reward of up to $1,000 for information, reported to Crime Stoppers, that leads to an arrest in this case.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the bureau’s Detective Bryan Steed at (503) 823-0395 or firstname.lastname@example.org; or Detective Rico Beniga at (503) 823-0457 or email@example.com.
And, you can remain anonymous. Leave a Crime Stoppers tip online at www.crimestoppersoforegon.com –text CRIMES (274637) and in the subject line put 823HELP, followed by your tip – or, call 503-823-HELP (4357) and leave your tip information.
© 2011 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News