Last Update: Thursday, December 05, 2013
|The Death of Gabriel Fernandez Inspires Effort To Honor Him|
|Written by Diana Martinez|
|Thursday, 12 September 2013 06:12|
Photo Courtesy Emily Carranza
The Palmdale City Council voted unanimously to approve the dedication and renovation for a new Neighborhood House and named it "Gabriel's House," in memory of eight-year-old Gabriel Fernandez who was abused and tragically killed. At least 75 volunteers participated in a weekend work day to prepare the house to serve as a non profit e as a music and performing arts center. The house is under the jurisdiction of the City of Palmdale and the Housing Division of the Economic Development Department to improve homes in moderate to low income neighborhoods.
Since the heinous death of 8-year old Gabriel Fernandez, who was repeatedly tortured and died at the hands of his mother, Pearl Fernandez, and her boyfriend, Isauro Aguirre, there has much discussion and at times debate, about an appropriate way to memorialize him.
In May, Gabriel Fernandez was discovered unconscious with a skull fracture, several broken ribs, cigarette burns and abrasions around his ankles that indicated he may have been tied up. He later died from the severe injuries.
Pearl Fernandez, 29, and Aguirre, 32, were arrested and charged with capital murder with special circumstance of torture. The pair, in county jail without bail, has yet to enter a plea; their arraignment has been delayed twice and is now scheduled for Oct. 7.
One mother, Daisy Bronx, organized protests with many other concerned parents. They stood outside of the county Department of Family and Children's Services (DFCS) offices in Palmdale and Los Angeles to demand that changes be made.
Photo Courtesy Emily Carranza
Bronx maintains that the best way to honor Gabriel was to demonstrate and expose the complacent history at DFCS. She started a website, "Gabriel's Fight" to keep people connected and informed about the protests and the case.
The protestors have attended Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors meetings and asked why the DFCS failed to act and remove Fernandez from his mother's home, despite several reports made by his teacher who saw evidence of abuse including black eyes, cuts and bruises.
When she asked Gabriel about the injuries to his face, the teacher reported that the boy had told her that his mother shot him in the face with a bb gun.
The child's death and reports of the extreme injuries suffered by the young boy documented in autopsy reports, placed a critical spotlight on the DFCS, and pressure on the Board of Supervisors to take action against the agency which it oversees. Last month some of the social workers involved in the boy's case were fired.
Gabriel's House In Palmdale
Last weekend, about 75 volunteers gathered to renovate a house into an art center. They have named it "Gabriel's House." Emily Carranza, Gabriel's cousin, traveled from Sylmar to Palmdale to be part of the effort. The Fernandez family lived in Pacoima and Mission Hills before moving to Palmdale.
"I am working on an image of Gabriel that can be placed in the house," said Carranza, who considers the volunteer's efforts to transforming the house as a "positive action" in memory of Gabriel.
"This will be a safe place for children," Carranza said. "It will be a place to learn music, dance and learn art. All of the volunteers worked hard and they did so much very quickly. The house will be open next month and will be a brand new place."
"We have a large number of volunteers that want to make a difference," said Palmdale Mayor Jim Ledford of the dozens of people who helped out. "It's a tragedy what we've experienced, so here is a very positive opportunity to come together and do something significant to set the stage for even more great things in the future."
The house will be powered completely through volunteer efforts and run by The Art Branch Foundation, a nonprofit organization. Founder Jimmy Lu said programs will feature all the major aspects of art, in addition to dance and music, they will offer acting, drawing, film, and photography for area kids. Instruction will be provided for free and kids can sign up for classes at the location of Gabriel's House, located 38533 East Fourth Street in Palmdale, or by registering at www.TheArt- Branch.org. The organization will also accept donations for Gabriel's House.
The Gabriel Fernandez Child Abuse and Neglect Fund
Carranza, through the website "Gabriel's Justice" she first established with a concerned friend, said a fund has been established through Children's Hospital Los Angeles.
Money previously raised through the website will go into the fund and they are encouraging additional donations to be routed to the hospital.
"Friends and family can donate to the fund by visiting our web page at www.chla.org/donate now. Once in the page, donors can specify the Gabriel Fernandez Child Abuse and Neglect Fund," she said.
Carranza selected Children's Hospital as a place to receive donations because she said they tried to save Gabriel's life. One of the doctors who was a "first responder" was very affected by Gabriel's case, and helped to establish the fund at the hospital.
"The fund will help provide services to children who come in with abuse or suspicion of abuse and will help to provide care and education," website information stated.
Plans for A Scholarship
In addition, there are additional efforts currently underway to establish a scholarship for a college student in the name of Gabriel Fernandez. One of those efforts is being led by San Fernando City Councilmember Sylvia Ballin, who also serves as treasurer of the statewide Latino Water Coalition.
Ballin said she will be meeting with CSUN officials to discuss awarding a Gabriel Fernandez scholarship to a student who is interested in going into a field related to serving children.
|Last Updated on Monday, 16 September 2013 20:42|