Anchorage ceremony honors wider array of crime victims
An annual Anchorage ceremony held Monday, meant to remember people slain in Alaska, is being expanded to include victims of other violent crimes.
Stone columns at Hostetler Park in downtown Anchorage honor the homicide victims from around the state, some as far back as 1969.
"This is our first time coming out to this event, this is really a beautiful event, it's really important," said Angela Pointer.
Her family are among those whose lives changed by violent crime. Her son, 17-year-old Leroy Lawrence, died in April 2017 after he was caught in the crossfire between two groups. One of the suspects in his death, Haitim Taha, was arrested in Israel last year and appeared in Anchorage court last month following his extradition.
"It's hard sometimes; yesterday was his birthday," Pointer said. "We was down here yesterday; it's hard."
"Different holidays affect me more than other days, like Father's Day, Mother's Day, Christmas, those things we miss, I miss him a lot more on those holidays," said Lawrence's father, Gene Lawrence.
At Monday's ceremony, 10 types of colored ribbons were tied to a tree, each one recognizing a different category of violent crime including yellow for kidnapping, teal for sexual assault and baby blue for child abuse.
The group Victims for Justice organized the tree ceremony.
"When someone becomes a victim of a violent crime, it's an incredibly isolating experience, and it's important to know that we as a community have one another to support each other," said Victoria Shanklin, the group's executive director.
"I don't know if the community is aware just how much the actions of others affects the survivors, so, this is a very nice event; I'm glad I'm here," Pointer said.
The ribbons will remain on display as a reminder of both violent crime in Anchorage and its victims.
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