AG, law enforcement leaders mark 40th annual National Crime Victims’ Rights Week with ceremony
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) – Attorney General Peter Neronha joined leaders in law enforcement Wednesday to mark the 40th annual National Crime Victims’ Rights Week.
The ceremony held at Memorial Mark in Providence praised the work of victims’ rights groups and honored victims of crimes in the state.
RI Attorney General Peter Neronha paused for a 40 second moment of silence and laid a wreath alongside two mothers whose children are victims of homicide.
“There’s a sea of files the victims’ advocacy unit, human services unit. It is literally a sea of manilla files. There are 9,000 pending superior court cases alone in our system,” Neronha said. “The loss for someone who’s lost a family member as a result of violence, that never goes away. And the most that we can do is offer support through the system and, just as importantly, offer it afterwards.”
“Living in a community where we possess approximately 135 unsolved murders is unacceptable. Our children are not just numbers. They were born and given a name. As a mother and survivor of gun violence, I will continue to fight for my community and I will continue to fight for the families,” said Diana Garlington, founder of Safer Communities for Justice.
Garlington lost her 21-year-old daughter Esscence in 2011. She was shot to death on Broad Street in Providence.
“It has been almost 10 years that I lost my daughter Esscence. It does feel like it was just last night,” she said.
That same year, Myra Latimer-Nicholas lost her son Steven to gun violence too.
“When my son was killed, I felt very alone and although I had the support of the non-violence institute and family, I still felt alone because I didn’t know anyone who’d been in my shoes,” said Latimer-Nicholas. “I’m asked all the time, what do you think will help make a difference in all this? I really don’t know. Will the gun laws help make a difference? I don’t know. From what’s going on in our streets, I don’t know. But if we all play our parts in it and maybe it could make a difference.”
Rhode Island State Police Superintendent Col. James Manni said in the last month they have been working to make a difference with crime victims, creating a special victims unit and a soft interview room to make victims more comfortable.
“Detectives assigned to this unit will be trained in how to conduct a more trauma-informed interview of a victim,” said Manni. “The room’s purpose is to make victims of these traumatic crimes feel more comfortable to share details with State Police detectives.”
While a Boston man was indicted in February for the murder of Latimer-Nicholas’s son, Garlington’s daughter’s case remains unsolved. Latimer-Nicholas said she has mixed emotions about her son’s case.
“I’m happy that there’s an indictment, and then I think about all the other mothers, fathers, families, children whose cases are still unsolved.”
The mothers hope their trauma will help future victims and help stop the growing issue of gun violence.
“We can’t continue to stand by and be quiet, knowing that we’re losing our children in large numbers, especially our young men,” said Garlington. “These type of crimes that are being committed are unacceptable and we must stand up as individuals, as the community, and speak up in regards to these senseless acts of violence.”
© WLNE-TV 2021