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Sixth Annual New York City
Brides’ March Against Domestic Violence
September 26, 2006

2006 Brides' March in NYC

Text Box: Left to right: Mireya Cruz and Maria Lizardo, members of the NYLADV, along with community supporters led the march.  

For the sixth year in a row, scores of women, men and youth marched through the streets of Washington Heights, the South Bronx, and East Harlem to raise awareness about the devastating effects of domestic violence on Latino and other families and communities. Many of the women wore wedding gowns and the men dressed in black as a symbol of mourning. They were joined by members of the Ricart family and families of other women who have been murdered, and by elected officials, clergy, advocates and many supporters from the community. 

The six-mile march culminated at the Julia de Burgos Cultural Center in East Harlem where the participants heard from several speakers including: Josie Ashton, from Florida, who originated the idea for the first Brides March back in 2001. Other prominent figures included: Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer, Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion, NYS State Senators Erik T. Schneiderman and David Paterson; Assembly Member Adriano Espaillat; City Council Members Melissa Mark Viverito and Miguel Martinez; Publisher and CEO of El Diario La Prensa, Rossana Rosado; and Marta Moreno Vega, President of the Caribbean Cultural Center.

The Brides’ March, also known as the Gladys Ricart and Victims of Domestic Violence Memorial Walk, is an annual event that was started in 2001 to remember Ms. Ricart, who was murdered by a former abusive boyfriend on the day she was to wed someone else and the many other women killed or injured as a result of domestic violence.

Dozens of Deaths and Hundreds of Thousands of DV Incidents Reported Each Year in New York City

According to the NYC Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence, 38 family related homicides were recorded between January 1st and September 1st 2005. Last year, there were 67 in total. This includes intimate partner homicide, as well as homicide committed by other family members and includes children who were killed as a result of family violence. In addition, according to the Mayor’s Office, last year, the police responded to an average of 600 domestic violence calls a day, for a total of some 220,000. Teen abuse continues to be a problem as well. The City Domestic Violence Hotline received 5,850 calls from teens as of July 31, 2005. Last year, the total number of calls from teens experiencing violence in their relationships was 18,282.

“These figures indicate that family violence continues to be a matter of great concern,” said Grace Perez, Executive Director of the Violence Intervention Program, Inc. “We need everyone in our communities to say no to violence; that is the best way of putting an end to the killings and to the abuse.”

Brides March Organizing Committee

The 2006 NYC Brides March Organizing Committee is comprised of the following members: Mireya Cruz, Dominican Women's Development Center; Maria Lizardo, Northern Manhattan Improvement Corporation; Adelita Medina, National Alliance for the Elimination of Domestic Violence; Grace Perez and Evelyn Garcia, from the Violence Intervention Program, Inc.

What is the NYC Annual Brides’ March?

The NYC Annual Brides’ March Against Domestic Violence, also known as the Gladys Ricart and Victims of Domestic Violence Memorial Walk, is an annual event which was started in New York City on September 2006, 2001 to remember Ms. Ricart, a Dominican woman, who was murdered in New Jersey on September 26, 1999, by a former abusive boyfriend on the day she was to wed someone else. Subsequent marches have also memorialized the countless other women who have been killed or injured in domestic violence incidents.

The idea for the first Brides March was originated by Josie Ashton, a young Dominican woman from Florida, who was very moved by the murder and outraged at the media and community’s insensitive response. Josie resigned from her job and sacrificed more than two months of her life away from her family to walk in a wedding gown, down the East Coast, from New Jersey to Miami, in an attempt to draw attention to the horrors of domestic violence.

I was very upset about people's ignorance about domestic violence and their willingness to blame the victim... We need to scream at the top of our lungs that we are here, that we have laws, legislation and programs to help women. They just don't know that help is there for them.

—Josie Ashton, September 21, 2006

From a small group of some two dozen marchers, the first year, the Brides March now attracts hundreds of individuals including government officials, business and community leaders, grass roots activists, renowned artists, clergy, law enforcement officers, and youth.  Each year, The Brides March receives the attention of local and national media, helping to spread the word widely about an issue that still continues to be kept quiet.

Background and Chronology of the Murder and the Trial

On Sunday, September 26, 1999, in Ridgefield, New Jersey, Gladys Ricart, a young Dominican woman, was preparing for what should have been the happiest day of her life, her wedding day. But, as she stood in her wedding gown posing for photos surrounded by family and friends, Agustin Garcia, her abusive ex-boyfriend, burst into the house and fatally shot her.

The killing and subsequent irresponsible media coverage served to divide not only the largely Dominican neighborhood of Washington Heights, in New York City, where both Ricart and Garcia had lived for several years, but Dominicans everywhere who heard about the murder.

Because of Garcia’s prominence as a businessman and well-connected community leader, media reports tended to blame the victim by suggesting that she may have invited her own death by daring to marry another man, causing Garcia to become filled with jealousy. “The sensational case illustrated how little people know about domestic violence, how women are still blamed for allegedly inviting violence and how the notion of crime of passion as a defense—which should have been discarded long ago—is being used. (www.womensenews.org, Crime of Passion Defense Should Not be Permitted, November 14, 2001)

The judge in the case had allowed Garcia’s attorneys to use a “crime of passion defense,” but On October 29, a jury rejected this defense when it convicted Agustin Garcia of the murder of Ricart.

In the wake of the trial, members of the Latino community, domestic violence advocates, and other outraged individuals formed a grass-roots coalition—The Committee for Justice for Gladys Ricart. The Committee sought justice for Gladys’ murder, offered support to her family, and helped to raise awareness about the issue of domestic violence and its consequences.

About a month after the Brides March, on October 29, 2001, the jury in the murder trial of Agustin Garcia rendered a guilty verdict. He was sentenced to life in prison. After the trial and sentencing, The Committee for Justice for Gladys Ricart evolved into the New York Latinas Against Domestic Violence, (“NYLADV”), an organization dedicated to creating greater awareness and consciousness about domestic violence and its tragic consequences and to ensure that the memory of Gladys Ricart and of all of the women who have died or been injured at the hands of their abusers, lives on. One way of doing this is to organize annual brides’ marches which take the issue to Latino neighborhoods and attract media coverage.

To date, six marches have been held in New York City bringing together hundreds of women, men, and youth, among them members of the Ricart family and other families affected by domestic violence, elected officials, civic leaders, clergy, students, and scores of domestic violence advocates. Marches have also taken place in Lawrence, Massachusetts, Miami, Florida, and most recently in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

About Gladys Ricart

Gladys Ricart, a Dominican immigrant who worked her way off public assistance, was the first in her family to graduate from college and became an accounts manager at a tourism company in Manhattan. She was a dedicated single mother to a 21-year-old son. While they were dating, Garcia and Ricart were regulars at social and political gatherings in Washington Heights. No one knew of the abusive relationship that took place behind closed doors.

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©2006. National Latino Alliance for the Elimination of Domestic Violence. All Rights Reserved.