National Crime Victims’ Rights Week is observed across the nation every year in April. Its purpose is to raise awareness of the impact that crimes have on victims and their families. One of our main focuses at the DA’s office is to ensure justice for our victims. This is why this week is so dear to our hearts.
The theme for this year was Expanding the Circle: Reach All Victims. It focused on ensuring that all crime victims have access to victim services and how organizations and communities can work together to make sure that victims and families get the resources and support they need.
This year our Victim Service officers Leigha Duval and Judi Ware spearheaded multiple community awarness projects to ensure that National Crime Victims’ Rights Week was a success. They applied for a grant in December, which they received from the Office for Victims of Crimes. The funding was used to host events for Crime Victims’ Rights week and publish information in various locations to increase awareness about the upcoming events. They handed out flyers, created digital billboards in two locations, and displayed posters at a myriad of coffee shops and restaurants arounds the city.
The first major project was to create art displays for Government Plaza’s atrium and throughout the entire building. The children of Dunbar Creative and Performing Arts Magnet School provided artwork promoting non-violent themes in support of the week.
A dual event was held on Thursday April 10, which included a Resource Fair and a Victim Remembrance Vigil. The resource fair was a time to bring service providers together in one location so that community members could gain easier access to each agency. Penelope House was among one of the many organizations present at the fair.
The week concluded in a touching Victim Remembrance Vigil hosted in Mobile Mardi Gras Park. Poems were read and dances were preformed in memory of the lost loved ones. Mayor Stimpson was one of the key speakers and informed the families that the city of Mobile remembers and cares for these victims. He explained that we must take things one day at a time. District Attorney Ashley Rich ensured the families that her office is doing everything in its power to seek justice for the victims.
“Our victim vigil is one of the most important things that we do for victims of crime. It gives victims and their families a voice and that is so important in the judicial process.”-District Attorney Rich
Many of the community members in attendance were family members of victims who were killed as the result of violent crimes. The healing process is just beginning for some of these individuals and it should not be experienced alone. That is why it is so important to have a vigil. It allows families to connect with others who understand what they are going through.
At the end of the service every person in attendance who lost a family member stood up and spoke the name of their deceased loved one. They then released a white ballon in remembrance of that family member. So many lives have been lost due to senseless acts of violence. This is why the District Attorney’s office works tireless to ensure that justice is served for these families.