Organizers from the neighborhood group Take Back Santa Cruz billed Monday evening's walk as a way to take back the memory of Shannon Collins, 38, from the murderer who stabbed her in broad daylight on the 300 block of Broadway last week.
Some 300 people including Mayor Don Lane, Councilmember Lynn Robinson, Vice-Mayor Hillary Bryant and Police Chiefs Kevin Vogel and Steve Clark walked solemnly over the Laurel Street bridge and onto Pacific Avenue.
They ended up outside , where a family friend read a moving speech from Shannon's husband, Ken Vinson, asking people not to blame Santa Cruz for the murder, but to realize it was a random, isolated act that could have happened anywhere.
"I am asking in the honor and the memory and legacy of Shannon that we strive for peace at this time," Vinson wrote. "I am also aware of the horror, outrage and fear that this unthinkable crime has caused. I realize that everyone is in shock and in disbelief that something like this could happen here."
He noted the large transient population and its problems and added, "I want to be very clear about one thing. None of these caused this crime. A single individual did. There are evil people in this world. This crime could have occurred in any city in any state across our union. It is an utter, utter, utter tragedy that this occurred here and to such a beautiful young woman.
"But I implore you, do not blame the system. Do not blame an entirer population. And most of all, do not blame Santa Cruz.
"Honor my late wife by remembering my late wife. Who she was, who she touched and what she meant. That's what she would have wanted."
He added that a public memorial will be announced later.
"Nothing I've seen in 25 years as an officer in Santa Cruz has left an indelible mark like this," said Police Chief Vogel, who called the walk "an emotional event."
This act happened so quickly and randomly, Vogel said.
"My message to the community is if you see somethings that seem out of the ordinary, they probably are. Call 9-1-1."
Collins was walking along Broadway at 11:50 a.m. last Monday, when she was suddenly attacked by a man jumped out from between two cars. A suspect was arrested minutes after the attack. Charles Anthony Edwards III, of San Francisco, is being held on $1 million bond and will be arraigned May 22.
He has a history of violent offenses in San Francisco.
Vogel also said he'd never seen the community respond in such numbers and so powerfully to a crime in the city.
One of the organizers, Analicia Cube, said that the walk was a way to remember Shannon not for her murder, but for her life.