Family, friends, and cyclists gather once more to honor Issac Martinez at mural painting

Artist Milt Coronado working on the mural. Photo: Kyle Lucas
Artist Milt Coronado working on the mural. Photo: Kyle Lucas

On the evening of Sunday, June 28, an allegedly intoxicated driver struck and killed 13-year-old Issac Martinez on his bike on the 8300 block of South Lawndale Avenue in the Southwest Side Ashburn neighborhood and fled the scene. The following evening, at the request of Issac’s family, Bike Lane Uprising organized a “human-protected bike lane” vigil the following evening, which was attended by the teen’s family, more than a dozen cyclist, and other community members. Even more people showed up for a second memorial the following night.

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The invite for the memorial.

On Saturday Issac’s family and community members gathered to remember Issac, continue to push for bike safety improvements at the site, and witness the creation of a nearby mural in Issac’s honor. The family reached out to Bike Lane Uprising to notify them of the mural creation about a day before the event, and cyclists returned to the site to pay their respects.

At the memorial, the Martinez family’s pastor gave opening remarks, joined by local aldermen, and some of Issac’s family members. The pastor opened up with a prayer to uplift Issac’s family and called for a moment of silence to remember Issac. 18th ward alderman Derrick Curtis called the teen’s death a senseless tragedy. He added that he has been in talks with the Chicago Department of Transportation to discuss what can be done to improve safety at the six-way intersection of 83rd Place, Lawndale Avenue, and Columbus Avenue where Issac was killed. Curtis said CDOT wants to hear from community members and that their feedback regarding speeding, unsafe experiences, etc. will be important to show CDOT that improvements to the intersection are needed.

The mural artist, Milt Coronado, shared some thoughts of his own. He said had his own personal connection to murals after he created one to memorialize his father and wanted to contribute something to the mourning family. Lastly, members of Issac’s family shared fond memories of him. Attendees were then invited to stay and enjoy food and conversation. 

Curtis later told me he is supportive of Issac’s family’s call for bike lanes at the site, yet he expressed skepticism that many of the neighbors would be willing to give up curbside parking in order to make room for protected bike lanes. Our brief conversation was cut short due to others wanting to have a word with him. I plan on reaching out to him to share some traffic calming resources and ideas that he can present to CDOT.

I doubt this will be the last gathering Issac’s family will have in his honor, and I look forward to standing alongside them as they fight for safer street conditions to prevent similar heartbreak in their community in the future.

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