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Marching to the Sheriff's Station and City Hall for Justice for Yanira Serrano Garcia
On June 6, family members, friends, and supporters held an interfaith vigil in Half Moon Bay for Yanira Serrano Garcia, the 18-year-old who was killed by San Mateo County Sheriff's Deputy Menh Trieu on June 3. After hearing from religious leaders of several denominations in front of Our Lady of the Pillar Catholic Church, a segment of the group marched around the corner to the San Mateo Sheriff's Half Moon Bay substation where a spontaneous, informal speak out was held. The group then marched to City Hall downtown and marched along Main Street.
This was the third vigil held in three days for Yanira.
A close friend of hers who spoke listed the reasons why they were there, stating first they were there for Yanira. They were also there for justice. Justice for Yanira, and justice for others killed by the police, such as 13-year-old Andy Lopez in Santa Rosa.
"We are here for people like Yanira who did not deserve to die," she said.
"She was a special girl to the whole community. I have never felt so scared in Half Moon Bay and I have been here all of my life."
Many residents have echoed that sentiment, saying they are fearful to call the authorities after what happened to Yanira.
Her family had called emergency personnel on the evening of June 3 when Yanira was reportedly having some health issues at her home in the Moonridge housing complex in Half Moon Bay. A San Mateo County Sheriff's deputy arrived instead of medical personnel, and within 20 seconds he shot and killed Yanira. The Sheriff's Office claims the deputy considered Yanira a threat because, according to them, she was in possession of a knife at the time the deputy encountered her. Those close to the family have contested this account and say the knife in question was a butter knife, and the so-called threat could have been handled without killing her.
Friends of the family have referred to Yanira as being a person with "special needs" who had issues taking her medication.
"She wanted to be normal. She wanted to stop taking her medication, and I get it. Sometimes when my feet hurt I just want to be normal. I don't want to take pills. I get her...all we want is justice," her friend said.
Yanira's friend also made allusions that the sheriff's deputy was not properly trained to help people with a health issue like hers.
"Sadly, they mistook her for something she didn't do, and a cop decided to get his gun out when he could have gotten out his taser, his pepper spray," she said.
"He decided to shoot her, and what happened? She passed away."
There was especially strong support at the march for Yanira from young women who, as a group, were passionately vocal at times.
They chanted "Yanira did not deserve to die," and "Indict the killer cop" as they marched downtown, hoping others would join them in their search for justice.
Ramon Cairo, of the Justice Coalition for Andy Lopez in Sonoma County, speaks in front of Our Lady of the Pillar Catholic Church in Half Moon Bay.