Victims' Rights Week begins with memorial

BY SHEENA BARNETT
Daily Journal
TUPELO – Messages of hope, understanding and support were the focus of Sunday’s National Crime Victims’ Rights Week Memorial in Tupelo.
About 60 people attended the event, many of whom were victims or who knew victims of crime, said Carolyn Clayton, interim director of Survival Inc. Each year local support groups gather at the Lee County Justice Center to remember victims and their families, she said.
“It reminds them that their loved one has not been forgotten,” said Clayton, who became involved in victims’ rights after her daughter, Amy, was murdered in 1986.
The culmination of the event came when Tupelo Police Capt. Bart Aguirre placed a wreath on the Justice Court lawn. A lone bagpiper played “Amazing Grace” after a moment of silence was observed.
The memorial’s speakers shed light on the subject of violence and offered understanding to victims.
Deborah Yates, executive director of S.A.F.E., read the names of 16 Northeast Mississippi women who were victims of domestic violence last year.
Renata Andrews, community educator for S.A.F.E., then gave words of encouragement to victims of violence.
“You must not give up,” she said. “Don’t give up. Don’t fall into isolation or despair.”
Andrews works with victims of sexual abuse, and she cited statistics about how often rape and abuse occurs.
Mimby Goodson, children and courts advocate, then spoke about artwork that hung on the windows at the Justice Center. Area high school students created art about crime, and the artwork will be on display at the Lee County Library starting Friday and ending April 31, she said.
Clayton was the last to speak, and she mentioned the recent tragedy at Virginia Tech University.
“It reminds us that murder is a reality,” she said.
Many tears were shed over the incident, she said, but “it’s OK to cry.”
“Believe me, there is healing in tears of grief.”
Victims’ Rights Week begins today and ends on Friday. Learn more about National Crime Victims’ Rights Week at www.ovc.gov/ncvrw.

Contact Daily Journal reporter Sheena Barnett at 678-1580 or sheena.barnett@djournal.com.