LOS ANGELES, CA—September 25, 2009— Today Attorney General Jerry Brown was joined by Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca, Broadcom founder and Marsy’s Law co-author Dr. Henry T. Nicholas, III , Justice for Murdered Children President Lawanda Hawkins and other speakers in urging all citizens to take strong action to end the senseless violence that each year claims thousands of innocent lives.
At the event emceed by Hawkins and Steve Ipsen, President of the Los Angeles Association of Deputy District Attorneys, hundreds rallied under a scorching midday sun to remember murdered loved ones and pledge to work tirelessly to protect and expand the rights of crime victims everywhere.
California’s Marsy’s Law was recognized as a seminal advance in the cause of victims’ rights and held up as a model for a U.S. Constitutional Amendment that would protect the rights of victims nationwide. Marsy’s Law, named for Dr. Nicholas’ murdered sister, was passed as a state constitutional amendment by California voters last November and is the most comprehensive victims bill of rights in the country.
“Our state took the lead in providing victims with enforceable, constitutional rights,” Dr. Nicholas said. “Today under Marsy’s Law I would have the absolute, unequivocal right to tell a judge before any plea bargain or any sentence was handed down what I thought of my sister’s murderer and the impact on me and my family.”
Dr. Nicholas also discussed how technology was instrumental in the campaign to pass Marsy’s Law and now can empower victims’ rights organizations.
“We were the underdog yet we prevailed by taking advantage of the technologies I had the honor of helping to develop in my profession,” he said. “These technologies have the potential to crate a unifying force among our geographic dispersed and economic disadvantaged movement.”
The new marsyslawforall.org website was identified as the test-bed for applying new technologies that can accelerate the ability to communicate, reach out to new members and identify influential individuals who can champion victims’ rights.
Attorney General Brown addressed the crowd, stating, “Today in Los Angeles and in California there are too many people being violated and the people here today need all the recognition and support that we can give them. A national day of recognition is more important than ever.”
“My commitment is to make sure laws are enforced, that our prison system works that we protect the citizens and we help the victims and we help stop the murders.”
Sheriff Baca, in his speech, implored, “This violence must end. Any American, anywhere in this county could be the victim of a violent crime. This is a terrible testimony to how much violence there is in a nation that is supposed to be the most prosperous in history.”
Friday’s event, held behind the Hall of Administration in downtown Los Angeles, was the first of its kind in Southern California. It was one of many taking place across the country as part of the Third Annual National Day of Remembrance for Murder Victims.
Surrounded by photographs of murder victims, rally organizer Hawkins reminded other families of murder victims to recall the day their lives changed forever.
Hawkins asked, “Do you remember that day they took your child’s life and that your whole world just changed from that moment, and how you can’t go back no matter what they do?”