Los Angeles - The nine-year dream to construct The Wall-Las Memorias Project, the country’s first permanent AIDS memorial, came closer to reality on Wednesday night as more than 350 people packed the Lincoln Park recreation center for a near-final hearing before the Los Angeles City Recreation and Parks Department Commission.
Richard Zaldivar, Founder and Executive Director of The Wall-Las Memorias Project, commented on the tremendous turnout by saying, “It was a long time coming to reach this crucial point. We’ve worked nine years to garner the community support that represents a cross section of our community and is solidly behind this project. We are grateful that this project has met with such broad-based community support.”
Community leaders took their turn at the podium to support the mission of the non-profit organization. Los Angeles City Councilman Ed Reyes stated, “I am very proud to support this effort. It is only fitting that an AIDS monument be built in Lincoln Park, where it joins another non-profit agency, Plaza de la Raza, and Parque de Mexico, a historical section of the park dedicated to the heroes of Mexican history.”
Iris Miranda, representative of State Assemblyman Gil Cedillo, stated, “ AIDS is increasing in the Latino community and people must be empowered to address these issues in a creative fashion. That’s why I supported and continue to support the AIDS memorial, The Wall-Las Memorias Project.”
The AIDS memorial will consist of eight wall panels. Six panels will contain murals depicting life with AIDS in the Latino community and two panels will list the names of 4,000 people who have died to AIDS.
Funding for the memorial was secured by former Los Angeles City Councilman Mike Hernandez and a $400,000 grant from the State of California through the leadership of State Assemblyman Cedillo. Although the agency has had funding in place for the past two and half years, it has met numerous times with the City of Los Angeles to make the necessary modifications necessary to receive City support.
At Wednesday’s meeting, the commission awarded the organization conceptual approval. The action enables city staff to enter and negotiate a lease with The Wall for ten years at $1 per year. Once all documents are submitted to the Recreation and Parks Department, construction can begin. Estimated completion is summer of 2003.
In an emotional speech to the commission, Sylvia Marquez who works at the rectory of St. Louie of France, stated “My beautiful son, Rick who died at the age of 33, was a kind and loving person who did not live and die in vain. The memorial will be a place where we can gather to remember them.”