Damien González, an 18-year-old Latine youth, was reportedly playing basketball at the Mission Recreation Center on Aug. 18 when he was shot by a masked suspect. Police officers provided aid and called paramedics to transport him to the hospital, where he later died. No arrests have been made since the shooting took place last month.
González’s family held a memorial and press conference on Aug. 21 at the Mission Recreation Center to honor his life.
Arturo Carillo, director of the Street Violence Intervention Program, a government program that focuses on violence and homicide prevention, described González as a “youngster well-known to the community,” as reported in the Mission Local.
González’s mother, Ariana Sanchez, said to El Tecolote at his memorial, “He was about to be a dad. He was so excited. This was a stupid act, what they did to him.”
A GoFundMe was created on Aug. 21 to support González’s unborn child. At the time of publication, 130 donors have raised more than $7,000.
González graduated from Civic Center Secondary School and volunteered with the Latino Task Force, a civic and multilingual organization that works to inform and connect Latines in San Francisco with numerous COVID-19 resources.
According to American Progress, a public policy research and advocacy organization, young Latine Americans are disproportionately at risk for gun violence victimization. In 2020, 38% of Latine gun homicide victims were 24 years old or younger. Their non-Latine identifying white counterparts made up 21% of gun homicide victims in the same year.
Despite only representing 4% of the population, Latine Americans aged 15 to 29 make up 8% of all gun homicide victims. An estimated 65% of all gun deaths among Latine youth ages 24 and under are violent homicides, while another 30% result from suicides by firearm.
District Nine Supervisor Hillary Ronen, who represents the Mission District, spoke at the memorial. She said, “We are tired of losing young people to gun violence in this neighborhood, in this country, everywhere.”
According to the Washington Post, 65% of Latine adults support stronger gun control laws. In addition, 80% of registered Latine voters said gun violence would be a major factor in their vote for last year’s congressional elections.
Latine politics professor Marco Durazo said, “We need stricter gun control laws at both a local and federal level.”
Kemelyn Alvarado, a Latine senior politics major, said, “It is inconceivable that people cannot go about their daily lives without being concerned about themselves or a loved one becoming a victim of gun violence.”
On a federal level, President Joe Biden recently announced the establishment of the first-ever White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention, which will “implement and expand upon key executive and legislative action which has been taken to save lives.”
San Francisco officials are working to tighten gun restrictions. In July, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that District Two Supervisor Catherine Stefani and City Attorney David Chiu have proposed a new ordinance that would expand the ban of firearms from public spaces in San Francisco to include election facilities, hospitals, parks, places of worship, grocery stores, and restaurants. The legislative body is expected to vote on the bill later this year.