On Friday, April 21st at 11 a.m. victims’ rights advocacy organizations, members of law enforcement, civic leaders, and survivors of violent crimes met at Laurel City Hall to kick off National Crime Victim’s Rights Week. Laurel Mayor Johnny Magee signed a proclamation to mark the occasion. Since then, the Shafer Center in Laurel has been posting photos of community leaders throughout the Pine Belt wearing tee shirts in support of crime victims and providing informational graphics about sexual abuse and other forms of violent crime.
During the proclamation signing on Friday, Teressa Ellzey of the Shafer Center, thanked everyone for coming together to show their support for the victims of crime and their families. Several community members, including surviving families of individuals lost to violent crimes, shared their thoughts and appreciation for the community for their support.
Patricia Pettis shared that her grandson Xavier Davis, 32, was killed in 2021 after arguing with another young man. “We lost our grandson in 2021. It’s something you don’t get over,” she said. “We are so glad to see all of y’all,” she said pointing out that community support has provided comfort to her family as they continue to grieve the son, grandson, and father that they lost. “The community is good. It means a lot that they care.”
The proclamation read as follows:
National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, April 23-29, 2023
WHEREAS, being a victim of crime and navigating the criminal justice system can be a frightening and confusing experience;
WHEREAS, progress in improving the treatment of crime victims has been made through the efforts of thousands of victims and survivors who have turned their own experiences into a force for positive change, ensuring that others can receive justice, meaningful assistance, and compassionate treatment before the law;
WHEREAS, since the passage of the Victims of Crime Act of 1984, and through the dedicated work of advocates, lawmakers, and victim service providers, there is a growing array of services and resources available to victims and their loved ones;
WHEREAS, honoring the rights of victims—including the rights to be heard and to be treated with fairness, dignity, and respect—and working to meet their needs rebuilds their trust in the criminal justice and social service systems;
WHEREAS, individuals’ trust in the compassion, understanding, and support of their communities is achieved through sustained, deep-rooted, and coordinated outreach;
WHEREAS, identifying, reaching, and serving all victims of crime—especially those from groups that often have less access to healing services and avenues to justice—is essential;
WHEREAS, our community’s continued engagement with the challenges faced by victims of crime will ensure that the progress made to date is not lost, and that new ground is broken to gain greater justice and healing for all victims.
WHEREAS, National Crime Victims’ Rights Week provides an opportunity to recommit ensuring that accessible, appropriate, and trauma-informed services are offered to all victims of crime; and
WHEREAS, The City of Laurel and Jones County advocates are hereby dedicated to supporting victims and survivors in the aftermath of crime, building trust among our clients, collaborating with other service providers, and engaging our community in response efforts.
Now, therefore, I, Johnny Magee, Mayor of the City of Laurel, do hereby proclaim the week of April 23-29, 2023, as Crime Victims’ Rights Week in the City of Laurel, reaffirming our commitment to creating a victim service and criminal justice response that assists all victims of crime during Crime Victims’ Rights Week and throughout the year; and expressing our sincere gratitude and appreciation for those community members, victim service providers, and criminal justice professionals who are committed to improving our response to all victims of crime so that they may find relevant assistance, support, justice, and peace.
IN WITNESS THEREOF, I HAVE HEREUNTO SET MY HAND AND CAUSED THE SEAL OF THE CITY OF LAUREL, MISSISSIPPI, TO BE AFFIXED THIS THE 21st DAY OF APRIL, A.D. 2023.