Gina DeJesus Delves Into Politics At Puerto Rican Parade In Cleveland

Gina DeJesus is only a few weeks removed from being released from her kidnapper, but already the Cleveland woman is dipping her foot into local politics.

In the first public appearance since delivering a video statement last month, DeJesus rode in the city’s Puerto Rican Parade to support Janet Garcia, a candidate for city council.

Gina DeJesus rode in a campaign car with Garcia in the parade, waving a Puerto Rican flag and wearing a t-shirt with the candidate’s face on it.

In May, DeJesus was freed after close to a decade of captivity in the home of Ariel Castro. She, along with fellow captives Michelle Knight and Amanda Berry, originally asked for privacy but have slowly begun to make public appearances in the weeks since they were freed. Last month Berry appeared on stage with rapper Nelly at a local concert, and Knight spoke at Castro’s sentencing last week.

Gina DeJesus also made a statement at Castro’s sentencing, delivered through her cousin and official spokeswoman Sylvia Colon.

In the statement DeJesus told Castro’s family that she does not hold them accountable and is praying for them to find peace. She also vowed that she would return to a normal life.

“We are comforted in knowing that she will continue to flourish,” Colon said of DeJesus. “She will finish school, go to college, fall in love, and if she chooses, will get married and have children. She is where we will continue to put in our energy. She lives not a victim, but as a survivor. Her insurmountable will to prevail is the only story worth discussing. We ask that you continue to give her and our family privacy as we continue this journey back into society.”

With the help of statements from Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight, Ariel Castro was sentenced to life in prison without parole, plus 1,000 years.