More than 100 crime survivors joined elected officials and community leaders at Crenshaw Methodist Church in Los Angeles on March 11 to call for new safety priorities and a criminal justice system that better reflects the needs of crime survivors.
The event was hosted by the Los Angeles chapter of Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice, a project of Californians for Safety and Justice, which brings together thousands of crime survivors from across California and elevates the voices of crime survivors in justice policy debates.
In a video address, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti thanked attendees for speaking out, and said their work was having wide-spread impact. “Thank you for telling your stories, and for turning your pain into purpose,” said Mayor Garcetti.
“Because of your strength, survivors everywhere have a voice that will be heard in conversations about how we improve public safety for everyone. People who experience violence often lack access to basic services they need to address trauma and to get on the road to recovery. Because of you, those barriers are falling away every day. More trauma recovery centers are being created across California. We are seeing reform through increased emphasis on prevention, recovery and healing instead of incarceration, and more service providers are working to ensure that families in low income communities get the right services they need.”
The event featured workshops on breaking the cycle of silence, preventing child sexual abuse and healing from trauma in the aftermath of violence, as well as space for youth. Event partners included Homies Unidos, L.A.U.R.A., Mariposa Center for Change, Mothers in Charge L.A., Ollin Law, Reverence Project, Save Our Sons, and Detours Mentoring.
“What you are doing right now in terms of healing our community is really important,” said Assemblymember Reginald Jones-Sawyer (D-Los Angeles). “When I first got involved in public safety, I saw a lot of people that look like you in this room — African Americans and Latinos. We need to have the resources for mental health available so we can heal our community.”
The event is the first in a series of actions with crime survivors across California that will culminate with the 4th annual statewide Survivors Speak in Sacramento on April 4. More than 500 crime survivors will attend Survivors Speak to share stories, honor loved ones and advocate for smart justice policies.
The largest convening of crime survivors in the state, Survivors Speak will take place during National Crime Victims’ Rights Week. Among the planned activities in Sacramento, hundreds of crime survivors in California will caravan from their respective regions by bus to participate in a march through downtown Sacramento followed by a rally at the state Capitol.
“Communities who are the most harmed are the least helped,” said David Guizar, Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice Los Angeles chapter lead. “Crime survivors need access to resources and services to heal from the effects of trauma and to stop the cycle of victimization. By bringing the voices of our network together, we can move policymakers towards solutions that prioritize rehabilitation and prevention.”