work in the San Francisco Gate (Marech). Recognition for her work wasn’t satisfying because
the Gwen Araujo trials made her feel bleak for her community, but it was a start.
I asked Gwen if she could sit through a series of trials like that again. She sighed, but
said, “If it would make a difference or help, I would absolutely do it.” After the trials were
wrapped up, Gwen had to take a break. She gave much of the responsibility for Remembering
Our Dead to other people. She stepped down from the Gender Education and Advocacy board.
She needed to stop being an activist for a while.
In 2016, Gwen Araujo’s mother, Sylvia Guerrero, was interviewed about the release of
one of the men who killed her young daughter (Reid). Jose Merel’s parole was approved with
Sylvia’s blessing. Jaron Nabors and Jason Cezares served prison time for manslaughter and had
been released even earlier. Only Michael Magidson remains in prison, seemingly unrepentant for
his actions. Sylvia is homeless. Her grief makes it impossible for her to hold down a job. She
does, however, often speak publicly about her daughter’s murder and the subsequent trials.
This is a sad story. It is a story that Gwendolyn Ann Smith cannot escape. Our Gwen still
has all her notebooks from both trials. She still has nightmares almost nightly about the case;
some about being chased, others about plans to kill her. Even so, she still works to tell the stories
of murder and unresolved grief, because through remembering, she believes their lives continue
As a child, Gwen Smith’s favorite book was Allumette by Tomi Ungerer. A retelling of
the story of the little match girl, who instead of freezing to death, discovers that her wishes
become reality. She uses her newfound power to open a headquarters to distribute commodities