JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Monday kicked off Victims’ Rights Week, which recognizes more than 2,500 victims of violent crime in Jacksonville, addresses the needs of their families and talks about ways to put an end to the problems plaguing the city.
Mayor Lenny Curry, Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams and State Attorney Angela Corey, were in attendance at a news conference Monday, along with several organizations that help fight for victims every day.
News4Jax spoke with several people who have been directly affected by violence. They said this week really brings families together, creating a bond between them.
The families said they hope the list of victims does not grow, but there is support out there.
Richard Collier, a former player with the Jacksonville Jaguars, used to be on the field, achieving his dream of playing for the NFL.
But Collier attended the event at City Hall Monday because he is a survivor of violent crime.
"I was shot 14 times. Pretty much left for dead. I had my left leg amputated above the knee. I had multiple surgeries,” Collier said. “Also had bouts with pneumonia. It was really tough. A hard deal. I was unconscious for about three weeks. When I woke up I didn't know anything.”
Kim Levey also attended the event. She said she’s fighting for answers after her father, Bob Levey, was murdered and his home was set on fire.
“We are hoping somebody recognizes him as someone who would go out and look for flea market items,” Levey said.
There are thousands of faces of lives taken too soon. Collier said Victims' Rights Week helps.
"It means you're not alone,” he said. “It means this city really wants to help with the crime. You have a lot of people fighting for you, a lot of advocates. You know, we have a lot of great people in this city trying to seek justice. So for me, it lets me know that they have my back."
Here's a list of scheduled events happening around town for Victims' Rights Week:
Monday, April 11 at 6 p.m.
Tossing of the Roses at the Jacksonville Landing (2 Independent Drive)
The Justice Coalition will host a tossing of the roses event, which honors victims of homicide and their families by tossing roses into the St. Johns River at the Jacksonville Landing. For more information, call the Justice Coalition at 783-6312.
Tuesday, April 12 at noon
Annual Awards Luncheon at the Main Library auditorium (303 N. Laura St.)
The National Crime Victims’ Rights Week annual luncheon will honor extraordinary individuals and programs that provide services to crime victims. Awards will be presented in categories including courageous victim, outstanding victim advocate, judicial victim advocate and law enforcement victim advocate. For more information, and to make a reservation, call Thelma Jackson at 630-7103. Tickets are $30 per person.
Thursday, April 14 at 6 p.m.
Memorial Tribute and Candlelight Vigil at Unity Plaza (220 Riverside Ave.)
Crime victims will be honored as their names are read aloud during the vigil. The event is sponsored by Compassionate Families and members of the Victim Assistance Advisory Council, or VAAC.
Saturday, April 16 at 12 p.m.
Balloon Release at Families of Slain Children Inc. (3108 North Myrtle Ave.)
Families of Slain Children will release balloons in memory of crime victims. Victims, family members, VAAC members and local nonprofits will participate.
For more information, visit the City of Jacksonville website.