What is it in us that cause us to kill? What makes us feel that we have the right to take something as precious as another person's life? The Crime Victims’ Group of Jackson, MS is still searching for the answers to these questions. The truth is that God is the giver of life and no one has the right to take it away. Nevertheless, many people lose their lives daily based on someone else's disregard for human life. I had the pleasure of being invited to this Crime Victims Group meeting by one of my dearest friends, Mary Bernice Barnes. She along with the other members of this group has a family member that was the victim of a murder.
I really came to this meeting to support Mrs. Bernice and to observe but ended up being their special guest for the evening. As I sat at the table, I took a closer look at the victims. I listened as Larry Nelson, Sr., the president of this organization, asked each victim how their cases were going. No one at the table had any results from the legal system. Several cases are still pending and some cases are not even being investigated. Just sitting at the table with them, I could see the void and the lack of closure in their lives but they are still determined to seek justice and to continue to support each other. They are receiving some support from City Councilman Kenneth Stokes, Mayor Harvey Johnson, District Attorney Robert Shula Smith, and from some investigators. However, many of the cases are nowhere near being solved. My heart ached for each member of this group. Their group needs our support because they are people with a purpose and they are working towards positive goals.
From this table, they are fighting for their rights and for the rights of their loved ones. Their mission statement is, “To assure that victims of violent crimes have the right to live their lives harmoniously and with dignity, feeling free to voice complaints or concerns without reprisals from the defenders, the police, district attorney or judges after suffering such a devastating loss of a loved one. The victims’ group strives to be a trusted advocate for all victims of violent crimes – educating them regarding their rights, empowering victims to speak for themselves, while providing advocacy for those without a voice - Love, Peace, and Unity. Through monthly meetings, the victims’ group seeks to change the quality of life for the victims’ through self-investigation, by filing the complaints to the police chief, district attorney or the attorney general’s office and by interaction with other victims of violent crimes to facilitate the resolution of non-bond to a conviction.”
The Crime Victims’ Group is presently developing a website which will include the stories of the victims and will, in the near future, write a book which will include their individual stories of their pain as a result of their losses. Some of the victims are: Anthony J. Blair, Malcum Brinson, Justin Gunn, Larry Nelson, Jr., Shadoe Love, Kenneth Stewman, Delas Holmes, Clifton Young, George Harris, Derrick Stampley, Mrs. Lee Lott, Rajah Barnes, Arkenyella Hoskins, Melvin Mason, James Hawthorne, Jr., Terrance Prior, Kelvin Bester, Brandon Lenard, Javaris Bullock, Eugene Lee, Jr., Marthraz Hollins, Patricia Hemphill, Bodi Howard, Gary Watson, and Christopher Bowling. The murderers of these victims are still free. Our hearts cry out, “Where is the justice?” Only God can hear these cries and touch the hearts of those who have suffered these great losses! If you have any information concerning these unresolved cases, please call Jackson Police Department at 601-960-0311 or the Crime Victims’ Group at 662-588-0048.
By: Sandra Lott