Memorial to mark one year since festival shooting

Live-streamed event scheduled for July 28

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GILROY STRONG Memorial organizers are encouraging the public to display #GilroyStrong posters, such as this one designed by Ana Gabriela Cadena, in their homes or place of business in the week leading up to the one-year anniversary of the Gilroy Garlic Festival shooting. Submitted drawing

The 2020 Gilroy Garlic Festival was supposed to be an opportunity for the community to reflect on the tragic end of the 2019 festival, while being reminded of the light-hearted fun of the event’s four-decade history.

But the Covid-19 public health emergency forced festival organizers to cancel this year’s event.

With the one-year anniversary of the shooting that left three dead and at least 17 others injured approaching, the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office is organizing a memorial event on July 28 to remember the victims and honor the first responders who took action during the incident.

The event is being organized by the DA’s Office’s Gilroy Strong Resiliency Center, which provides services, individual and group counseling for all those affected by the shooting. The center opened in the Neon Exchange, 7365 Monterey St. in downtown Gilroy, in January.

The memorial will begin at 5:15pm for a limited number of invited people to participate in an in-person gathering (pursuant to public health orders), and will be live-streamed for the community on YouTube live at youtu.be/ZRH3Y8pbNaY.

It will also be streamed on Facebook Live through the Gilroy Strong Resiliency Center’s Facebook page at facebook.com/GSRC.DAO.

“The community in Gilroy is understandably hurting,” said Assistant District Attorney James Gibbons-Shapiro. “We are hoping that we come together on this anniversary of the shooting to show that we’re Gilroy strong.”

The memorial continues the DA’s Victim Services Unit’s “long-term care” process for the community, Gibbons-Shapiro said. On the evening of July 28, 2019, the unit sent an advocate to the Gavilan College parking lot, where a reunification site was set up for festival-goers separated from their groups following the chaos of the shooting.

A family assistance center opened at Rucker Elementary School the following day, providing services for those affected by the shooting. It later moved to the Gilroy Library, where it was stationed for 12 days.

The Resiliency Center opened six months later, and now on the one-year anniversary, the memorial will “mark together the pain we feel and the healing that has begun,” Gibbons-Shapiro said.

In the week before the event, all are invited to place #GilroyStrong signs in their home or business window.

“This huge community event was so wonderful for so many people,” Gibbons-Shapiro said. “It’s not only canceled this year because of the public health emergency, but people now have mixed memories of those wonderful things as well as the terror of the mass shooting. That community pain is ongoing.”