Killed by gun October 1, 2012

Mary Oliver asks in her poem “The Summer Day,”

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

Julio Alcantar knew his own answer to that question. He was hard working, unfailingly polite and kind, a young man who worked hard at his studies and focused on his dreams for the future. He wanted to improve the world by ridding it of violence and fear. This is a big dream, but he intended to play his own role in making the world safer and friendlier. He was successful in his own terms because even faced with obstacle after obstacle, he never veered from his intended path. He was a senior at UC San Diego and planned to become a lawyer for people in his community.

He was shot and killed in south Los Angeles on October 1, 2012, by an unknown assailant. He was 23 years old.

Julio wrote the following after the first time he was shot in south Los Angeles on October 6, 2007:

“[After I was shot] I had a horrible realization. Life in the “hood” is no good for anyone. Even though I was working and focusing on school [at UC San Diego] I was not excused from the harsh realities of South Central.

I realize now, more than ever, that a college education is the only way to expurgate the toxins of society from my soul. I cannot picture my children living through this, along with all the other innocent children in my neighborhood.

The question of why the only option for young males in inner cities seems to be gang life crosses my mind. And through education I want to answer it myself. I want to create change in my community so that someday this self-hate and community violence stops. I will forever be reminded of what happened that day; the bullet lodged in my spinal cord, the cracked rib and punctured lung will make sure of that.

The fear instilled in me on that day will forever haunt me. But from that fear I will draw inspiration and battle for equality and justice until I have vanquished it.”

Julio was buried at Holy Cross Cemetery on Saturday, October 20, 2012. His parents spared no expense, since there would be no graduation party or future wedding or baby christenings for this son. More than 400 people attended the ceremony, some from UC San Diego. A mariachi band played him home.