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City Hall painted purple with lights in support of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week

NATCHEZ — Those around Natchez City Hall after dark might have noticed that the building has been painted with purple lights this week.

The color represents National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, which lasts from April 18 to April 24. NCVRW is organized by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office for Victims of Crime and celebrates the 40 anniversary of its inception this year.

This week, Marsy’s Law for Mississippi joined forces with victim service professionals, businesses, healthcare providers, educators, policymakers, houses of worship, and a host of other social and civic groups to emphasize the importance of leveraging community support to help victims of crime, according to a news release from the agency.

“National Crime Victims’ Rights Week exists to raise awareness for the needs of crime victims and to unite the community to ensure that survivors of crime receive the holistic services and support they need. This not only helps the individual heal, but improves community safety and wellbeing,” the news release states.  “Marsy’s Law for Mississippi joins the OVC in taking a stand for crime victims. We are on a mission to ensure victims in Mississippi receive constitutional rights equal to those currently afforded to the convicted and accused.”

Throughout the state, buildings and businesses have been lighting up purple and hosting events to show joint support for equal rights for Mississippi crime victims, including Natchez City Hall, the Mississippi Governor’s Mansion, Mississippi Coliseum, the Lamar Life Building, the District at Eastover and Thalia Mara Hall in Jackson.

Marsy’s Law is named after Marsalee (Marsy) Ann Nicholas, who was stalked and killed by her ex-boyfriend in 1983. A week after her murder, Marsy’s mother was confronted by her daughter’s murderer in a grocery store. Having received no notification from the judicial system, the family was unaware that he had been released on bail mere days after the murder. Marsy’s family, and others, have faced pain and suffering since the courts and law enforcement are not obligated to keep them informed.

While criminals have more than 20 individual rights spelled out in the U.S. Constitution, the surviving family members of murder victims have none. Marsy’s Law for All seeks to amend the Mississippi constitution to ensure that crime victims have the same co-equal rights as the accused and convicted.

The East Central Community College in conjunction with Marsy’s Law for Mississippi hosted a NCVRW event complete with a 5K race and candlelight vigil on April 20.

“This week, my family and I ask the state of Mississippi to recognize the pain victims go through over and over again as they navigate the aftermath,” said Mike Jones of Okolona, whose father was murdered in 2004. “Currently, only victims of certain specific and limited crimes get constitutionally protected rights. My family is one of many that have fallen through the cracks.”

Marsy’s Law for Mississippi has received over 250 endorsements of statewide and local elected officials, law enforcement, and victims’ advocates.

“The safety, dignity, and privacy of crime victims should undoubtedly be a constitutional right,” said Mayor George Flaggs of Vicksburg. “Victims should certainly have equal protections as the accused and convicted.”

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