One mother is trying to change the culture of violence in cities all over the nation, starting in Denver. Helen Rodriguez, mother of slain Desiderio Rodriguez, a bartender that was gunned down outside his bar on South Broadway in 2004, unveiled the first of what she hopes to be many signs celebrating the absence of violence in a community.
On Wednesday afternoon, Rodriguez revealed a sign in front of what used to be Sebastian’s Grill, the spot where her son was shot to death. The sign reads: “Violence Not Tolerated In This Neighborhood.” And as CBSDenver reports, Rodriguez hopes that these signs will be placed all over cities where murders have occurred, both to honor the dead, but as a reminder to all citizens of a neighborhood that violence can happen anywhere and should not be tolerated.
As 7News reports, Rodriguez and her daughter Reanna, petitioned city hall for permission to place this memorial sign at the scene of the crime. Rodriguez, along with other family members and friends, went door to door collecting signatures and getting permission of the rest of the neighborhood to erect this sign until the city finally approved the memorial.
Josh Thurmand, Denver’s memorial sign coordinator, spoke to 7News about the groundbreaking sign:
We have 76 signs that say, ‘Please drive safely,’ or ‘Please don’t drink and drive. This is the first for violence.
In an interview with CBSDenver, Rodriguez had this to say about the sign’s hopeful message and impact on the city:
I just want people to become aware that we can help and we can stop the violence and we can stop tearing families apart like this.
According to an archived report in the Rocky Mountain News, on the night of the shootings in 2004, William Davenport was thrown out of Sebastian’s Grill for getting into a fight, but returned at closing time later that evening. Upon Davenport’s return, Desiderio Rodriguez, who was working the bar that night to earn extra money for Christmas presents for his young son, offered to buy Davenport a drink and even apologized to him for having to kick him out of the bar earlier that night.
Instead, Davenport opened fire in the bar, shot Rodriguez nine times, killing him. Witnesses in the bar said Rodriguez stoop up to block gunfire from hitting other people. William Davenport was eventually sentenced to life in prison without parole in 2007.