Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

News Conference Kicks off Crime Victims' Rights Week; Local Advocates Were on Hand to Show That They Care about Victims and Want to Help

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

News Conference Kicks off Crime Victims' Rights Week; Local Advocates Were on Hand to Show That They Care about Victims and Want to Help

Article excerpt

Byline: DAN SCANLAN

Everyone knows being a victim is terrorizing and painful, but it's also lonely.

In a wheelchair after being paralyzed and losing part of a leg, former Jacksonville Jaguar Richard Collier said he was supported during and after the trial that saw Tyrone Romero Hartsfield convicted of attempted murder. Hartsfield ambushed Collier nearly two years ago outside a Riverside apartment, shooting him multiple times.

"It can be a lonely place if you don't have anyone there with you," Collier said Monday as part of the kickoff to National Crime Victims' Rights Week. "But there were a lot of people there, police officers to the Justice Coalition and judges, showing they really care about the city and the people."

That's why Northeast Florida has to help crime victims, said Ann Dugger, executive director of the Justice Coalition.

"The victim should know they have rights, and they should be recognized this week to know they have not been forgotten," Dugger said at Jacksonville City Hall.

Facing crime victims holding posters and photographs of loved ones lost, Collier, area police, prosecutors, judges and victim advocates kicked off events this week that include a luncheon today and a march and candlelight vigil Thursday.

The first crime victims' rights week was established 29 years ago by President Ronald Reagan after the attorney general's Task Force on Violent Crime report prompted a look into victims' rights. Locally, the theme of this year's observance is "Crime Victims' Rights: Fairness; Dignity; Respect," recognizing the importance of ensuring victims have resources and support to begin the process of healing after being victimized.

"I never want our community to take for granted that it was only a few short decades ago when victims were excluded from the courtroom, when they were re-victimized and felt they were the ones to blame for the crimes," said Rich Komando, the 2010 Victim Assistance Advisory Council chairman. …

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