EXCLUSIVE: Family ‘shocked’ after San Jose removes monument to Safeway worker killed in robbery
SAN JOSE, CA (KGO) — Ten months after the death of a Safeway worker, the debate over his memorial feels like another loss to the family.
Last summer, Manny Huizar, 24, was working at a Safeway store on Hamilton Avenue when he was shot during an early morning robbery.
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Friends and colleagues set up a memorial near his work, which became a sacred gathering place for his family.
They transformed and decorated the memorial for his birthday, Dia de Los Muertos and other holidays.
After receiving the complaint, the San Jose Department of Transportation cleared and removed the memorial last Tuesday.
Colin Hein, public relations manager for the Department of Transportation, said the memorial has been standing since June, and when investigating the complaint, they saw that it was attracting graffiti. Hein said they first contacted the family months ago, but the phone number they had no longer worked the day they received the complaint.
Guillermo Huizar, Manny’s brother, learned that the memorial was being removed from a message from his mother.
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“Shocked, sad, the first thing I thought of was my mom because I knew my mom would be heartbroken again,” Huizar said.
Guillermo Huizar was at least glad that someone from the city contacted his mom in time to pick up the memorabilia.
“One of the city employees actually went into Safeway, took my mom’s phone number, told her what was going on, and actually took things to my mom’s house,” Huizar said.
But Huizar said the news hit him hard.
“It was the last place he was there, it’s something special,” Huizar said.
He wishes it could go on longer.
“I fully understand that this is the place of the city, I completely respect it, but I mean if you left it for 10 months, you know that a year is two,” Huizar said.
Lisette Ledesma often passed by the memorial.
“You can feel that people care about the person,” Ledesma said.
She believes that the city should be focused on other things.
“People – especially the city should – they should be more focused on safety and less on occasional complaints,” Ledesma said.
John Divittorio lives across the street. He said the memorial has grown over time and fluctuated. He said that during the holidays it will become more crowded. Divittorio said that at times there was music and food.
“Somehow sad to hear that someone complained about it. I live right across the street and it never bothered me. Divittorio said.
This is part of the city’s statement:
“There is no formal agreement to preserve a shrine or memorial – by the strictest technical definition, they are not allowed in the ROW. But removing them is not a top priority for the city, and the issue has not been previously complained about. O. We understand the desire of families to have a place to mourn and remember their loved ones. However, if they obstruct public passage, grow in size, cause complaints, or attract graffiti or gang activity, we will monitor the removal of the politician and clean them up.”
Guillermo Huizar hopes to work with the city to come up with a more compact and permanent way to honor his brother.
“I would like to find a way to maybe get permission from the city, you know, for something even a little bit,” Huizar said.
Marisela Cornejo, Manny’s mother, said one of the reasons she kept the memorial was because of the love and appreciation she received from the community.
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