Councilman Ed Reyes earlier this week proposed naming the intersection of Bixel and Court streets “Roberto Lopez, Jr. Square” in honor of the four-year-old Echo Park boy who was slain nearby when he was struck by a gang member’s bullet. Roberto was one of four Echo Park kids that have been murdered since December 2006, some of them also falling victim to gang violence. But the city has so far not honored the other murder victims – 9-year-old Charupha Wongwisetsiri; 13-year-old Anthony Escobar or 15-year-old Michael Lezay – with a permanent memorial. Angeleno Heights residents have cleaned up a public stairway near Charupha’s former home in her honor but there is no permanent memorial.
In the case of Lopez’s memorial, council office spokeswoman Monica Valencia said Reyes came up with the idea. Reyes was moved after hearing that city workers had dismantled and removed a sidewalk shrine – which included some of Roberto’s stuffed animals and a granite altar – created by family and neighbors last December. Someone who saw the workers dismantling the memorial was able to salvage some of the broken pieces of the altar, which the family used to build a small shrine in front of their home, she said.
“After learning this, Council member Reyes, a father of four, really felt for the parents and suggested the dedication of the intersection in little Roberto’s memory,” Valencia said in an email. “The parents were in favor of the dedication and so Council member Reyes moved forward with the motion.”
Valencia said the council office is now working on having “Roberto Lopez Jr. Square” signs created for installation at the intersection.