Long Beach commemoration puts spotlight on murder victims’ rights

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On Sunday, Los Angeles-area non-profits Justice for Homicide Victims and Justice For Murdered Children hosted a 5K walk/run event at Rosie’s Dog Beach in Long Beach, in commemoration of National Day of Remembrance for Murder Victims. 

“We have never been under attack as victims’ rights groups as we are now,” Justice for Homicide Victims President Bill Bouffard said.

In addition to speeches and the running event, which served as a fundraiser for the non-profit organizers, the commemoration also included music, food and a gallery of murder victims stretching as far back as the 70s.

Bouffard said that laws such as 2014’s Proposition 47 were responsible for putting criminals back into the communities they target, and that legislators were putting suspects’ rights above those of victims and survivors. Although he agreed that reform efforts such as Proposition 47 were often well-intentioned, Long Beach Police Chief Robert Luna said that victims were fighting an uphill battle for justice these days.

Spotlight on Victims

Filmmaker Christina Cooper plans to change that. Cooper is the producer behind “If I Don’t Make It Home,” an upcoming film that will focus on Los Angeles murders, and those who are left behind by them.

She has a personal connection to the issue. Former boyfriend James Boyston was murdered near Crenshaw in 2016, which she said left her with feelings of guilt and depression.

Cooper’s film, which is slated for release in December, emphasizes the role communities and families play in preventing murders, something one of Justice For Murdered Children’s youngest members also said was critical.

10-year-old Nathalia Jackson was only 4 when her father was murdered in Van Nuys. Two years ago, she began to volunteer with victims’ rights organizations, and has become one of the org’s leading spokeswomen, thanks in part to her precocious speaking abilities.

“It’ll be harder before it’s easier,” Jackson said, of those trying to recover from murder in their lives. “But the best way to lead is by helping others.”

Jackson also agreed with Luna that putting suspects before victims was unconscionable, but the Long Beach chief said that with more visibility, organizations such as Justice for Homicide Victims and Justice For Murdered Children could turn things around.

“It’s very important that you keep fighting this fight,” Luna said. “Legislators will listen to the families of victims.”

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