Crime victims

Crime victims’ loved ones and advocates in front of The Clothesline Project that was on display in front of City Hall.

Crime victims and several agencies that assist them were at Laurel City Hall last Tuesday as Mayor Johnny Magee signed a proclamation to observe April 7-13 as Crime Victims’ Rights Week. 

Special proclamations went to Barbara Jackson, whose daughter Davokiee was shot and killed; Jennifer Spears, who had a family member become a victim of sexual abuse, and Bobbie Heidelberg, whose granddaughter Taquala Heidelberg was stabbed and paralyzed. All offered special thanks to the victims’ advocates who worked with them — Deborah Warren of the DA’s office, Melicia Teya Cooper of the Laurel Police Department and Priscilla Sims Breland of the Jones County Sheriff’s Department. All were on hand along with other members of their agencies, the Domestic Abuse Family Shelter, the Shafer Center for Crisis Intervention and crime victims’ families. Rev. Vernon Graves offered a prayer for them and led a rousing rendition of “His Eye is on the Sparrow.” 

Afterward, there was a balloon release, where family members called the name of their loved one as they watched their balloon rise toward the heavens. A display of handmade T-shirts representing The Clothesline Project — which has different colors to represent different kinds of assaults — was set up in front of City Hall. 

The President’s Task Force on Victims of Crime in 1982 launched the victims’ rights movement. “Victims’ advocates, prosecutors and service providers are hereby dedicated to strengthening victims and survivors in the aftermath of crime, building a resilience in our communities and our victim responders and working for a better future for all victims and survivors,” the proclamation concluded.

The Jones County Board of Supervisors had a similar proclamation for crime victims and the Jones County Sheriff’s Department at last Monday’s meeting.

— By Mark Thornton/

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