BESSEMER, Ala. (WBRC) - This week is the 40th Annual National Crime Victims’ Rights Week. In commemoration, the City of Bessemer held their yearly candlelight vigil honoring the lives of those lost to violence and domestic assaults.
Bessemer ended 2020 with 18 homicides. As of Tuesday, the city has already reached 18 homicides. Leaders say they plan to do their part to stop the violence.
Bessemer Cutoff District Attorney Lyneice Washington shared this strong message for those who choose to solve conflicts with weapons.
“Since you decided to go to the graveyard. Pick out your favorite suit. Get your socks,” says Washington. “Get your T-shirts. Get you a job so that your family won’t have to go and panhandle for money to bury your body.”
Chief Mike Roper says he isn’t pleased with the city’s violence and he wants the youth to take a moment and think about their future.
“These could be some of our future leaders that they have shot,” says Roper. “These could be some of our future leaders that’s going to jail. Oh, they’re gonna go. They’re going to jail. I won’t give up. These 18 homicides, we’ve solved 75 percent. I won’t stop until we solve 100 percent.”
Jefferson County Sheriff Mark Pettway says we need to operate in love and less violence. He says we should treat our neighbors the way we’d want to be treated.
“We need to be able to go to our ball games and there’s no violence. We need to be able to go to church and there’s no violence,” says Pettway. “We need to be able to go to the mall and there’s no violence. We need to be able to go home and there’s no violence.”
The tribute included a role call, where the names of those killed in the years past were read. The annual event is to empower victims’ families and also provide resources.
For more information on National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, visit this website.