District Attorney James E. Stewart Sr. and Sheriff Steve Prator, Caddo parish’s top elected law enforcement officials, keynoted the opening of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week locally Monday, April 9, 2018, on the Texas Street steps of the Caddo Parish Courthouse.

“Each and every day in the District Attorney’s office is victims’ day,” Judge Stewart told the crowd of dozens of local, regional, state and federal law professionals and victim advocates.

He noted that since he was elected two years ago his office has doubled the number of people who offer aid and succor to victims and that all investigators now are trained in such aid as well.

“We think every day that every job we do, every file we open, every case we hear, every prosecutor who walks into the courtroom, their minds stay on victims,” he said. “Our resources are out there for all those people who are in need.”

Sheriff Prator offered his remarks moments after a victim of crime, Danny Weaver, offered a deeply personal appreciation of the hidden costs of crime. Weaver’s elderly parents, Obie and Linda Weaver, died as a result of a police chase in 2014, where a fugitive from Oklahoma, charged with kidnapping, robbery and burglary and fleeing police, rammed his truck into their vehicle.

“It seems like every time the legislature gets together we have criminals’ year, then we have to set aside one week that we honor victims,” Sheriff Prator said. “I think that’s wrong. The police are not the criminals, the criminals are not the victims, and the victims are what this system is supposed to be all about and about serving.”

Prator said the point of the observance is “all about people. It’s about victims, it’s about innocent people that did not deserve to get what happened to them. Until we start realizing that, our nation and our community is going to continue to spiral.”

Judge Stewart continued on that theme, asking his listeners and the community to “reach out to those people who are victims of crimes if you know them. Let them know that they are loved, that they are not forgotten. We might not be able to do anything about the crime that was committed at the time, but we can give aid and support to those who are in need.”

The ceremony kicked off the nationally celebrated week, April 8-14, 2018, which has as its theme “Expand the Circle: Reach All Victims.” Encompassing Sexual Assault Awareness Month as well, it also included a proclamation by Shreveport Mayor Ollie Tyler.

Here are other associated local events schedule through month’s end:

Volunteers for Youth Justice will hold several “Light of Hope” ceremonies throughout the month. The first will be Tuesday, April 10, at 5 p.m. at the Bossier Parish Courthouse in Benton. The second will be held on Thursday, April 19, at 6 p.m. at the Jacqueline Park Gazebo in Minden. The final ceremony will be Tuesday, April 24, at 5 p.m. at Caddo Parish Juvenile Court, 1835 Spring Street in Shreveport.

Friday, April 13: Project Celebration and Barksdale Air Force Base Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) “Shine the Light on Sexual Violence 5K Walk.” A Color Fun Run will begin at 6 p.m., with a Glow Run at 7 p.m. All participants will receive a T-shirt as well as other swag the day of the race. Register through www.christfitgym.gym/shine-the-light, or call Amber Webster at (318) 227-7900.

Saturday, April 14: A Community Awareness and Safety Fun Day will be held from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Caddo Parish Sheriff’s Safety Town, 8910 Jewella Ave., Shreveport. It also will offer bounce houses, refreshments and tours of Safety Town as well as information tables by local organizations that serve crime victims, including the Caddo Parish District Attorney’s office.

Tuesday, April 17: Prevent Child Abuse Louisiana Pinwheel Planting, 10 a.m., at the Caddo Parish Juvenile Court, 1835 Spring St., Shreveport.

Monday, April 23: Speak Up-Speak Out, male-led panel discussion, 3:30 p.m. at the Shreveport Job Corps Center, 2815 Lillian St., Shreveport.

Wednesday, April 25: Embrace Your Voice, female-led panel discussion, 3:30 p.m. at the Shreveport Job Corps Center, 2815 Lillian St., Shreveport.

Friday, April 27: Employees of the Caddo Parish District Attorney’s Office will observe “Wear Denim Day.” Participants will pay $5 to wear jeans to work, with proceeds being donated to Project Celebration for use in providing direct services to sexual assault survivors as well as community education. Denim Day was triggered by a ruling by the Italian Supreme Court in which a rape conviction was overturned because the justices felt that since the victim was wearing tight jeans she must have helped her rapist remove her jeans, thereby implying consent. The following day, the women in the Italian Parliament came to work wearing jeans in solidarity with the victim. Peace Over Violence developed the Denim Day campaign in response to this case and the activism surrounding it. Since then, wearing jeans on Denim Day has become a symbol of protest against erroneous and destructive attitudes about sexual assault. In this rape prevention education campaign community members, elected officials, businesses and students are asked to make a social statement with their fashion by wearing jeans as a visible means of protest against misconceptions that surround sexual assault.

Saturday, April 28: CASA Superhero Run, 8 a.m. in Shreveport’s Red River District. Early registration through Friday, April 13, is $20, with pre-race registration April 14-27 $25. Day-of-race registration is $30. Register through www.sportspectrumusa.com (https://runsignup.com/Race/LA/Shreveport/SuperheroRunforCASA) or contact Deanna Curtis at (318) 263-2292 (email Deanna-curtis@vyjla.org.)

For more information on the national observance of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, visit the website https://ovc.ncjrs.gov/ncvrw/