Crime survivors share experiences as part of Victims' Rights Day

Published: Apr. 10, 2019 at 11:35 PM EDT
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Violent crime victims and survivors gathered in the Capitol rotunda in Frankfort to share their stories as part of an observance of National Crime Victims' Rights Week (April 7-13).

The event was hosted by the Office of Victims Advocacy and Attorney General Andy Beshear's Survivor's Council.

Among the speakers Wednesday was Anita Franklin. Her son Antonio Franklin was fatally shot five years ago at Lexington's Duncan Park. The basketball court there is named in his memory.

Coming back to the park is "very emotional" said Franklin, adding the basketball court "was his favorite place to be."

The theme of the week this year was "Honoring our past. Creating hope for the future."

"We have to be encouraging to all victims, no matter the crime," Franklin said. "We have to empower them to know that they have to speak up and speak out about what's happened to them."

It was Franklin that reached out to Deana Howard, whose son Sean was shot and killed in 2017.

"[Franklin] actually spoke about the person on the couch for a week, which was me, because you get the devastating news and you don't know how to handle it," Howard said.

The pain survivors feel kept raw, Howard said, by the unending cycle of violence.

"Every time there's a new murder in our community it relives that one phone call that one night over and over for us," Howard said.

Both women are now part of a community of survivors coming together this week to support each other and work for change.

"As long as people think they can victimize us, as long as people think they can get away with this criminal activity and they won't be identified it'll escalate, and I refuse to be held hostage or prisoner in my own beautiful city," said Franklin.

"We don't want to have another mother bury their child, so if we can step up now and speak out and help somebody then that's our goal," said Howard.

National Crime Victims' Rights Week is devoted to raising awareness of victims' rights and services and celebrating the progress achieved.

Franklin said her work is just getting started.

"Until there's zero murders or homicides in Lexington, Kentucky, that's the day I stop," Franklin said.

Franklin and the Fayette County Sheriff's Office will hold a community peace walk Saturday at 6 p.m. at Duncan Park. The event coincides with the fifth anniversary of Antonio Franklin's shooting. Everyone is invited to attend.