By Josefina Morales
Undeterred by scattered thunderstorms, the family of Alex Gonzales Jr., as well as their supporters and activists, gathered on Monday evening to commemorate what would have been Gonzales’s 28th birthday, celebrating his memory and calling for the arrest and conviction of the police who murdered him.
On January 5, Austin Police Department (APD) officers Gabriel Gutierrez and Luis Serrato shot and killed Gonzales as he reached for his crying infant in the backseat of his vehicle after a road rage incident with Gutierrez. Gonzales and his widow, Jessica Arellano, were on their way home after buying baby formula in the Riverside neighborhood of Austin when Gutierrez cut them off and started shooting into their vehicle.
Arellano survived multiple gunshot wounds inflicted by APD—now she raises her son Zane alone while facing chronic pain in her recovery. Both Arellano and her son Zane were in attendance at the birthday celebration.
Supporters of the two families reiterated their demand that the officers and APD as a whole face justice for the murder of Gonzales: “The people of Austin are here to support you and to fight for you. … We’re honoring Alex in the best way possible, which is fighting for his memory,” one activist remarked.
Alex Gonzales Sr. spoke of his son’s joy of being a new father, and after sharing more memories of Gonzales and his brave, hardworking spirit, those in attendance chanted, “Convict Gabriel Gutierrez!” and “Convict Luis Serrato!”
Led by family members, the community tied 28 balloons to the memorial on Wickersham Lane to honor every year of Gonzales’s life. A banner hung up during the event read, “People’s justice for Alex Gonzales Jr.! Gone but not forgotten,” along with his dates of birth and death. People’s justice is the justice carried out by the people and their organizations.
As night fell, attendees lit candles and cut into a birthday cake that had a portrait of Gonzales’s face on it. Despite Gonzales’s heinous murder by police, a joyous spirit imbued the gathering as the family and activists vowed to honor and fight for him.
Another speaker addressed the crowd: “Not only are Officers Gutierrez and Serrato still employed by APD—APD has covered for [them] every step of the way by smearing Alex’s name and putting forward the bogus and debunked claim that he had a gun.”
The speaker continued, “APD has shown that it does not serve the working people of Austin. … This is the whole police department that creates and supports murderers and uses their political connections to silence and deprive families of justice. In response, the whole people of Austin should join the Gonzales family in demanding justice for Alex!”
“I want them to be scared when they hear, ‘Gonzales,’” said Liz Gonzales, mother of Alex Gonzales. “They’re gonna dream about my son, wake up thinking about my son. … Margaret Moore allowed this, for the cops to get away with this, to get away with murder. … I will make noise on this spot, every month, again and again and again until I get justice!”
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