National Crime Victims’ Rights Week began in Jacksonville on Monday.
Advocacy groups, including Families of Slain Children and the Justice Coalition, joined family members of victims at City Hall to kick off the observance. Many held photos of lost loved ones and wore t-shirts printed with their photos.
District Attorney Angela Corey, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry and Sheriff Mike Williams spoke during the event.
Williams said he and his officers are committed to making sure victims’ rights are not compromised.
“We all share a commitment to make sure that as a community we are tending to the needs of people who need us the most,” he said. “People who need us to do more than just catch the criminals. Victims need us to care.
Crime Victims’ Rights Week recognizes victims lost and also attack victims who survived.
Former Jacksonville Jaguars player Richard Collier shared his story of being shot 14 times and paralyzed eight years ago, at age 24, one night in Riverside.
“I can remember taking all that in and just asking God, ‘Why? How am I going to get through this?’ It’s very hard,” he said. “I remember kind of feeling like once I left the hospital everything would be OK, and then you kind of open up the wounds when you go to trial.”
Collier sat with his wife and twin 2-year-old sons Monday. He thanked all those who supported him and helped him through his shooter’s trial, including the state attorney’s office, JSO and the Justice Coalition.
“[Jacksonville] is a beautiful city,” he said. “We got a lot of work to do. There’s a lot of crime but we can do it together. We can fix this city and keep it a great place."
Victims’ Rights Week continues Monday evening with the Justice Coalition hosting a “tossing of the roses” event to honor victims of homicide at the Jacksonville Landing at 6 p.m.
Thursday at 6 p.m. there is a candlelight vigil at Riverside’s Unity Plaza sponsored by Compassionate Families and members of the city’s Victim Assistance Advisory Council. And Saturday, Families of Slain Children is facilitating a balloon release to remember crime victims at 3108 North Myrtle Ave.