On September 25, individuals from across the United States Virgin Islands gathered to remember their friends and loved ones. In a room at the Women’s Coalition of St. Croix, these people gathered while dressed in red. Their shared grievance was in observance of the National Day of Remembrance for Murder Victims.
September 25 was designated to honor these victims by Congress in 2007. It serves as a way for the families and friends of homicide victims to band together and share their experiences. It also serves as a way to highlight many organizations. Groups use this day to provide advocacy, support, and general counseling to the people who experience this tragedy firsthand. Having a designated day helps an organization spread awareness about this issue.
The Women’s Coalition of St. Croix is one of these organizations. It holds events and activities to offer support to the loved ones of those who suffer this fate. Their actions help bring about media attention and community support to help ease the suffering of associated persons. It also helps towards pushing for efforts to reduce violent crime in the Virgin Islands and in St. Croix specifically.
One key aspect of the event is the wall of remembrance, a list of victims’ names since the 1970s. Updated every year, it helps quantify the murders and show the sheer amount of violence this community has suffered. The wall hangs front and center, boldly announcing this serious problem and ensuring that people don’t ignore it.
Another part of the remembrance was a speech by Senator Kenneth Gittens (D). “I am glad that my daughter is no longer a police officer because now I could sleep at night,” he said. “I really [knew] how my mom felt. My mom never shut her two eyes until I came through the door.” The Senator recounted his time in law enforcement and his plans to revamp the criminal justice system as a lawmaker now.
Alongside the Senator, many other guest speakers included the family of friends of murder victims in the area. Their words helped to provide comfort and hope to others who are suffering. Through a collective effort, those present at the event hope to support one another and work for their common goal of ending this problem in the territory.