By Don Bolding
Killeen Daily Herald
COPPERAS COVE - About three dozen Coryell County officials and volunteers braved Saturday morning's drizzly weather to plant about 6,000 pinwheels on the lawn of Copperas Cove City Hall to launch local observances of National Crime Victims' Rights Week, which is April 18-24.
Directing the event was Coryell County Crime Victims' Coordinator Amy Perkins, a licensed professional counselor who works with the district attorney's office to protect the rights and welfare of crime victims. Working with her were members of the area chapter of Bikers Against Child Abuse and the Fort Hood Family Advocacy Program, Perkins's office's counterpart in the military.
Coryell County Judge John Firth called the observance "very profound." He said the pinwheels, which represented the freedom gained by crime victims aided by community efforts, "help the public imagine the magnitude of the problems crime creates for victims. We're honoring those victims who have displayed the courage to come forward and help us."
Six-year BACA member "Stalker," a Copperas Cove woman, said, "Being a part of this has changed my life. Most BACA members were victims of assault as children."
She told a story of a family in Colorado where the abuser skinned the family cat and put the body on the doorstep to terrify the victim into silence.
"They do things like this all the time, but others use affection and warn children what will happen to them as perpetrators if they testify. What we do is step into a situation and stay with the victim before a trial, during proceedings and after the legal process to help facilitate the prosecution and the victim's recovery."
Sgt. 1st Class John Malo, deployable sexual assault coordinator at Fort Hood, said, "Very often crime victims can't speak for themselves and don't think they have anyone to talk to. This is a testimony to them that they really do have a voice."
Also Saturday, the group planted a tree on the Coryell County Courthouse lawn in Gatesville to symbolize the hope afforded by victims' rights awareness.
Other activities this week include:
Tolling of church bells at noon each day to remember victims of violent crimes.
A Celebration of Crime Victims' Rights event at
6:30 p.m. Monday at Lea Ledger Auditorium, 400 S. 25th St. in Cove with speaker Carolyn Mosley, whose daughter was a victim of dating violence.
A Victim Advocate Appreciation Brunch from 9:30 to 11 a.m. Wednesday at the Gatesville Complex co-sponsored by the Texas Victim Services Association and Central Texas College culinary arts students to present awards to nominees for outstanding service in the field.
Perkins's office is seeking donations to replace the 6,000 pinwheels, which are worn after five seasons of use.
For more information call, Perkins at (254) 865-5911, ext. 2287.