KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The organization HOPE for Victims held a vigil Sunday to remember loved ones lost to violent crime.
Families of victims of violent crimes gathered at the Knoxville Police Department for the vigil, which kicked off National Crime Victims’ Rights Week. Attendees shared the name of their loved ones and when they died, after various speakers and a performance by Drums Up Guns Down.
Zenobia Dobson got involved with HOPE for Victims after her son Zaevion was killed in 2015.
“He was at the age of 15, he lost his life due to gun violence, and I’m always here to advocate, support, and make sure his memory is kept alive. Always,” Dobson said.
She said the network of support from HOPE for Victims helps with the grief.
“You know you miss those memories, and you know they were present at the table that you eat at and, hey, they’re gone. We just try come together as mothers in memory of our babies and it’s difficult, and we would just like to support other mothers as well, because that’s just what we do as moms,” Dobson said.
President of HOPE for Victims Joan Berry said the goal of the event, and the week, is to remember victims of violent crimes and raise awareness.
“They have no voice now, so we have to be their voice. Victims need more rights, so that’s what it’s all about, and with the gun violence and everything that’s been going on we just need to give them a voice and let them know that we’re hear and we speak for them,” Berry said.
For her, the cause is personal.
“This is not an event you want to be apart of, you know I lost my daughter Johnia in 2004, so this is something I’m very passionate about. Since she was murdered, we have been able to see some good things come out of the legislation, we’ve gotten some laws passed and then last year truth-in-sentencing was passed, so it’s definitely a step in the right direction,” Berry said.
HOPE for Victims also offers services for families year-round.
“We have support group meetings every month, we also do things during the holidays to remember victims, and then there is also a brick memorial at the City County Building, that’s in September. So, every occasion that there is we try to be part of it and remember the victims,” Berry said.
The vigil also included a purple ribbon pinning ceremony with KPD officers, and HOPE for Victims will be traveling to Nashville to pin legislators and TBI agents later this week.
A full list of events that HOPE for Victims will be holding during National Crime Victims’ Rights Week can be found here.