Introducing… State Question 794!
We’ve officially launched the State Question 794 campaign and we couldn’t be more grateful for the backing and acknowledgment that’s been shown from endorsers and media across the state – and most importantly, it’s very reassuring to already have the support of many crime victims. These are the Oklahomans that we’re working so very hard to restore dignity and respect for with our efforts. It was an honor to announce to, and alongside, them that Marsy’s Law for Oklahoma will be diligent over the next 14 months in working hard to get our initiative passed, ensuring that our state constitution is amended to enshrine their rights in the same way as their perpetrators are protected… they deserve it. We all deserve Marsy’s Law for Oklahoma.
We started in Oklahoma City on Wednesday, September 13, with a beautiful morning press conference tucked away at Park House Events Center in the Myriad Gardens. There we heard from Oklahoma Fraternal Order of Police Vice President Mark Nelson, crime victim and President of the Oklahoma Homicide Survivors Group Lauren Layman and Sheriff of Canadian County Chris West. Lauren spoke about the hardships she and fellow survivors endure while navigating the criminal justice process and provided a little insight into how she believes the passage of SQ 794 will help future victims of crime in our state. In attendance was Oklahoma County DA David Prater, Grady County Sheriff Jim Weir, and Oklahoma’s MADD Chapter Director Loretta Denman.
From there, our team rode together to Tulsa for our second event of the day, which we hosted at the serene Central Center in Centennial Park. If you haven’t been to Centennial Park, we highly recommend it. Tulsa County Sheriff Vic Regalado opened the event and Tulsa City Councilor Karen Gilbert followed and shared with us her connection to family friend and speaker Sheri Farmer. Mrs. Farmer’s daughter Lori was murdered in 1977, in what came to be a “high profile” case. Mrs. Farmer walked us through the experience of how she and her husband had to educate themselves in order to ensure no stone was left unturned in honoring Lori the best way they can now. They have to stand up and be a voice for her and that’s just have done for the past 40 years. Many law enforcement officials were in attendance, some from surrounding counties. We were honored to meet a few new crime victims who carved time out of their afternoon to attend and learn more about our efforts.
The next day, Thursday, September 14, our team set up in Lawton at the Hilton Garden Inn and we were so encouraged by the guest turnout. Speaking to those gathered were District 6 DA Jason Hicks and crime victim and Founder of Always Date Without Violence Angela Wiles. If DA Hicks’ commitment to justice, which he believes can only actually be achieved once our courtrooms are mandated by the constitution to hearing the concerns of those directly affected by the crime, didn’t offer a compelling enough plea for Oklahomans to do what’s right at the ballot box in 2018… then came Angela Wiles. Angela’s 14-year old daughter Alyssa was murdered in their home, stabbed to death, by a boy from school who she’d just broken up with. With heartbreaking grace, Angela explained the trauma her family endures every time they are relegated to a place almost akin to being a second-class citizen in the courtroom. Over the past four years, they have spent many anniversaries, birthdays and holidays in a courtroom looking at the perpetrator who has all of the rights heavied on his side.
I was proud to speak at each event. I felt that it was important to explain what exactly comes next in this process. It’s not that a State Question campaign has never been launched in this state, it’s just that we now have the opportunity to directly affect the lives of so many Oklahomans – the way crime works is that we never know if/when it may occur, so really we’re fighting for ourselves here. We’re fighting for our friends and families. We will touch all corners and communities of this state over the next 14 months. SQ 794 will become synonymous with elevating the rights of crime victims in Oklahoma. This is a cause we all can get behind.
Please email me at [email protected] with any questions and see below for more photos from these amazing events. I hope you will get involved and help us towards the finish line – whether that’s to share your story or to volunteer at an event. Together, we can do it!