The “Stand with Sam” domestic violence awareness march made its way through Jersey City this afternoon, traveling from Liberty State Park to Hamilton Park.
By Daniel Ulloa/Hudson County View
Organized by Chastity Acosta, the group was created after her cousin Samantha Irizarry was a victim of a domestic violence attack leaving her in critical condition.
Activists marched down Audrey Zapp Drive out of Liberty State Park across the Morris Canal Basin before stopping to pray for Irizarry at Jersey City Medical Center. A police escort protected the group from traffic throughout their march.
“We are an army of soldiers right and every day fighting for her. Continue being with us, Lord, as we march for Sam,” Acosta declared to a circle of bowed heads.
They then proceeded further downtown to Hamilton Park. People on the street waved and cars honked in approval as they passed by.
“Who do we stand with?” Acosta chanted to the crowd marching behind her.
“Sam!,” they replied.
“What are we against?” “Domestic violence!,” the crowd responded.
From there, friends and family told moving stories of Irizarry’s brightness and sweet demeanor.
On October 22nd, 2020, Irizarry was a victim of an attempted murder-suicide when she was shot six times by her ex-boyfriend after seeking to end the relationship.
He then turned the gun on himself and took his own life. Most of the bullets struck her in the back and one of them pierced her neck.
Irizarry’s younger cousin and two friends carried her into the car and rushed her to the hospital. On the way, she asked them to call her mother. As she was clinging on to life, she told her mother: “Mom, I’m dying. I love you.”
“By God’s good grace, the devil couldn’t get her heart. A lot of people wouldn’t have survived that, but Sam is a warrior, a goddess, a queen,” Acosta exclaimed.
However, is now paralyzed from the neck down. Acosta explained that doctors were optimistic of her recovery at first, but due to minor setbacks related to fevers and infection, it slowed her progress.
Irizarry is now on a ventilator and has suffered traumatic injuries, including to her spinal cord and brain, as well as paralysis from the shoulders down. She is also suffering from cognitive impairments and experiences neurological and respiratory complications.
“I know in my heart the queen shall heal, and we will stand alongside her every step of the way,” Acosta said.
She noted her own status as a survivor of domestic violence and rape, along with the negative effects on her life when addressing the crowd.
Acosta is raising money for the cause by selling goody bags in an effort to pay for the recovery process, medical bills, and other home health care expenses.