PROVIDENCE, RI – In commemoration of the 40th annual National Crime Victims' Rights Week, Attorney General Peter F. Neronha, joined by Deputy Criminal Chief Lee H. Vilker, United States Attorney's Office; General Treasurer Seth Magaziner; Colonel James M. Manni, Superintendent of State Police and Director of Public Safety; Colonel Hugh T. Clements, Providence Chief of Police, gathered in Memorial Park in Providence to honor the strength and resiliency of victims and victim service providers.
"Our Victim Services team is truly part of the backbone of our office," said Attorney General Neronha. "Throughout the pandemic, while victim service providers have grappled with strained resources and formidable barriers to victim outreach, they have continued, along with advocates from around the state, to work with victims to achieve justice on their behalf."
Myra Latimer and Diana Garlington, both mothers of homicide victims, courageously shared their personal stories at the ceremony.
Diana Garlington stepped into her role as an activist when her daughter Esscence lost her life to gun violence at the age of 21. Since then, Diana has worked to educate the public on gang violence and gun safety. Her daughter's killing remains unsolved.
Myra Latimer lost her son Steven to gun violence in 2011. In the years since, she has directed her grief to create positive change, establishing the Steven K. Latimer Memorial Foundation, which raises money for kids who have lost a parent or loved one to violence.
In February 2021, a Boston man was indicted for Steven Latimer's murder.
"I remember when Myra Latimer was here with us two years ago, in this very spot, being honored for her advocacy work. At that time, we had not yet seen the beginnings of justice for Steven Latimer," said Attorney General Neronha. "I am grateful today that we are now on the road to justice for Myra and Steven, thanks to the work of the Providence Police Department and members of our office."
State officials and law enforcement leaders provided words of support in recognition of victims and victim service providers.
"Each year we gather in springtime to renew and recommit our support to victims of crime, to build trust, and to engage our community," said Acting United States Attorney Richard B. Myrus. "Now more than ever, when so many people are feeling isolated and alone, and at a time when resources are harder to come by, we must marshal our collective resources and our voices to ensure that not a single crime victim's voice goes unheard and that not a single crime victim goes without access to critical support services."
"The impacts of crime are often costly, and victims shouldn't be made to carry that financial burden," said Treasurer Magaziner. "Our office's Crime Victim's Compensation Program assisted over 1,000 Rhode Islanders during 2020 in paying medical bills, legal fees, meeting relocation costs and getting through a difficult time in their lives. If you or someone you know has suffered a crime and need assistance, my office is here for you at RICVCP.com."
"The 40th Anniversary of National Crime Victims' Right Week reinforces our commitment to victims of physical, emotional, and financial crimes," said Colonel Manni. "Earlier this year, the Rhode Island State Police established a Special Victims Unit with specially trained members assigned to investigate sexual assault, domestic violence, along with crimes against children and other vulnerable populations. These crimes traumatize not only victims but also their friends and family. This week, we honor those who have been impacted by crime and remember those who have lost their lives to criminal acts."
"Today in Rhode Island we recognize and salute the countless victims of crime throughout the past year," said Colonel Clements. "Every day, along with our Victim Advocates, we strive to get individuals to a new and better place in their lives with the support and services they desperately need."
Since 1981, National Crime Victims' Rights Week (NCVRW) has been a time to renew our commitment to serving all victims of crime, to acknowledge the achievements in victim services and allied professions, to honor those who have gone above and beyond in their service to others, and to remember crime victims and survivors.