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Crime victims urged to be strong during event at City Hall

A crowd of more than 50 people attended the vigil. Photos by Rick Tobin.

A crowd of more than 50 people attended the vigil. Photos by Rick Tobin.

South Carolina’s Fourteenth Judicial Circuit Criminal Prosecutor and Assistant Solicitor Tameaka A. Legette urged people who have undergone violent crime attending the City of Walterboro Candlelight Vigil on Tuesday, April 2 to go from victim to victor.

About 50 people attending the vigil, held at Walterboro’s City Hall, heard uplifting messages from Mayor Bill Young, Public Safety Chief Otis Rhodes, Public Safety

Walterboro Public Safety Chief Otis Rhodes.

Walterboro Public Safety Chief Otis Rhodes.

Victim/Witness Program Coordinator Denise Pinckney, Doctor Gunther Rencken, and Legette, as well as others, during the vigil.

Rencken, of Walterboro Family Practice, is the city’s Crime Victim Service Provider. He told those attending the event, “Things have changed over the past four years. Our young people are becoming the victims of shootings. We need to teach our youth not to be ugly towards one another.” Rencken also noted that crime statistics “are horrendous,” adding that the idea of holding a vigil is “great for the people, and gets people uplifted. “He added that his wife, Kim, is also in the medical field and helps with female crime victims. “I think the concept of pas it on works very well. If you have been helped, then turn around and help someone else.”

Theresa Lacey, representing Citizens Opposed to Domestic Violence (CODA), said that she has been associated with the organization for the past four years, working as a community educator in Colleton, Beaufort, Jasper, and Hampton counties. She said that the most dangerous time for a woman who is being abused by a spouse is when she actually leaves him. She told the women attending the event, “If you are in a difficult, violent situation, you don’t have to stay.”

Legette commented on the many victims that her judicial circuit has dealt with. “We have 250 victims that the Prosecutor’s Office can’t bring back,” Legette said. “We can’t bring back lost loved ones, but we can offer justice for the victimized and downtrodden.” She described a victim as someone ‘who is injured, destroyed or sacrificed.’ She described a victor as ‘one who defeats an opponent and wins.’

Legette continued, “For your own safety and peace of mind, the only way you can be free from the prison of being a victim is forgiveness. You can take back the power and authority if you rise above it.” She then challenged people attending the vigil to rise from being a victim to being a victor. “I call you to victory tonight. You have a choice to be a victor. This is a call for honor, a choice to be a victor, to stand today and rise. You must find peace, and a way to make peace. I believe that what does not kill you makes you stronger.”

Walterboro’s Victim Assistance Program Director organized the event, and provided opening and closing remarks. She said last Wednesday, “This is National Crime Victims Awareness Month, and I wanted to let victims know that they have not been forgotten and are still in our hearts, although we may have moved on to other cases. The vigil was also to let people know that they are not alone. We put out 50 chairs for the vigil, and all the seats were filled and there were also people standing.”

Pinckney noted that her job has many rewards, but she was very touched by a poem one of her contacts gave her. “A crime victim gave me this poem a few months ago, and it is very, very inspirational to me. It makes me know that I am making a difference. The poem reads:

“You cannot see them, the wings that she does bear. She’s always on stand-by, and very well prepared.

Without a second thought, she’s vastly on her way, to rescue another victim and help them on her way.

At the hands of violence, she saves another life. She knows that she could get paid more, and help in bigger ways, but God has sent her to us, an Angel in her place.

A life spared here, another spared there, and the one that got away. God knew what He was doing, the day He sent her here.

He sent her on a mission to save the hurt and scared. God had a lot to say to her the day He gave her His orders. He sent her meekly on her way to calm the shaken waters.

She has saved so many lives, with God to guide her way. She has saved so many lives…. Including mine today.”