It has been a year since Kimberly Avila has gone missing, and LGBTQ community members are gathering for a vigil in Brownsville a few days removed from the anniversary of their disappearance. Also known as Ramiro Avila, they were last seen in downtown Brownsville on May 12, 2017, and community members want to show their family that they have not forgotten about Avila.
Cindy Candia of the PFLAG Harlingen chapter is one community member who will be in attendance on Monday night, May 14.
“It is important to go show the family and community that we are there to support the family of Kimberly,” Candia said. “[A situation like this] can happen to anyone. Our mom, dad, sister or brother, our neighbor.”
The South Texas Equality Project (STEP), a group of LGBTQ organizations and individuals focused on advocacy and visibility of the LGBTQ community, is hosting the vigil.
“I just hope that people will come and help make and hold space for this family, so they know that we as a community have their back in these difficult times,” Joe Uvalles, the organizer of the event, said. “We may not know what happened to Kimberly yet, but we may be able help the family feel loved and supported.”
As a gender fluid person, Avila’s story is an important one.
“Gender nonconforming people of color often face the most marginalization and are the most vulnerable in our own communities, and this missing persons case is proof of that,” Uvalles said “No leads. No witnesses. No information. Someone, somewhere out there knows something. Amplifying this story may help bring answers to Kimberly’s family.”
In June, STEP will be having a drag show fundraiser during Pride at the Park on June 23 to benefit the campaign that is searching for Avila. STEP also has a $2,000 cash reward for anyone that has information that helps find Avila or those responsible for this disappearance.With this vigil, STEP is hoping that they can both honor Avila’s life and show that the community is still committed to finding what happened to Avila.
“This vigil is also a call to action for the community to help remind local law enforcement that Kimberly Avila matters and they must provide equal due diligence to this case,” Uvalles said. “I remember seeing Kimberly so many times supporting local drag shows and queer events. Maybe this time we can show up for Kimberly.”
STEP is asking that anyone with any information may call Brownsville PD at 956-548-7800 or Crime Stoppers at 956-546-8477.
When: May 14, 6:30 PM – 7:30 PM
Where: Brownsville Market Square, 1150 Market Square St, Brownsville, Texas.