Dia de los Muertos Display Highlights Tragic Scope of Gang Violence in Sacramento County

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SACRAMENTO -- Among the Dia de los Muertos decorations and alters for loved ones who died of natural causes, there were photos of those less fortunate -- killed by gang violence.

The booths at 20th and J streets in Midtown Sacramento were viewed by hundreds walking by on Saturday.

"So this creates a perfect platform for us to continue to advocate the end of gang violence," Jose Verdin said.

Verdin is a student mentor with Brown Issues at McClatchy High School.

"One of our members from Brown Issues actually was gunned down a couple of streets from here," he said. "Sometimes I think what would have happened if he was still here."

Verdin and his students put up a display of skulls, each representing a teen who was killed by gang violence in Sacramento County in the last 10 years. There are 117.

"It's pretty sad that once you see them. Like that's another youth that was helping," student Brenda Chagolla said.

Saturday's event was a chance for Verdin's students to meet with other community activist groups, like Margo Santana's Community Mothers of 95838.

"Right now the streets of Sacramento is really out of control. It's too many loved ones being killed. The gun violence is very high," Santana said.

According to the Sacramento County Coroner's Office, 85 percent of teen homicides over the last decade were black or Latino. It's a big reason why Santana believes those two communities need to work together.

"We're all here for the same reason, we all here for peace," Santana said. "We all want the gun violence to stop, and we're all out here to scratch each other's backs and share resources."

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