Event honors violent crime victims, survivors

September 29, 2012 (CHICAGO)

States Attorney Anita Alvarez hosted the event at the UIC Forum that attracted hundreds of people.

It was not just an opportunity to openly grieve, but a way to recognize and pay tribute to the family and friends of the victims of violent crimes.

Those who attended the memorial service got a chance to see that, regardless of who you are or where you live violence can touch us all.

Horace and Camelia Gilmore were there to honor their daughter.

"It just enforces the faith you have in God," said Camelia Gilmore.

It was just over nine months ago that Kosetta Radliff was struck and killed by an alleged drunk driver as she headed to work.

"I'm a retired Chicago Police Officer and it's different when you watch other people going through it, then when you're going through it yourself," Horace Gilmore said.

The Gilmores were among the hundreds of friends and family of victims of crime who Saturday paid a special tribute to loved ones lost.

The Cook County State's Attorney's office began the memorial 23 years ago in an effort to comfort those touched by violence.

"Long after the lights go off in the courthouse, the defendant is sentenced and the cases are closed, all of you have to begin your own life sentences trying to cope with your loss," Alvarez said.

Jennifer Hudson's cousins, the Nichols sisters, expressed their grief over the slayings of their relatives through song.

Their re-assurance that no one suffers alone touched Oliver Norris, who lost his niece Aisha by a violent crime.

"We had a beautiful and loving niece," Norris said. "She was a wonderful mother. I'm so lost for words."

She can barely be heard saying the words "my baby" as she locates the picture of her child on a photo board of victims.

But for Catherine Peters, there's not just sadness, but anger.

Her daughter Michelle was murdered allegedly by her live-in boyfriend in April. She's now fighting to get custody of her grandchildren.

"I just want justice for my daughter and I want her boys to be in the place she wanted them," Peters said. "That's here and not in California."

While peace for some remains elusive, the ceremony did give something to others.

"It was a beautiful service," said Sherrika Norris. "It was to give you some type of closure with it."

The event also included a resource fair and referral services as well as an on-site support group.

Many there said that attending the ceremony helped.

Some also added that forgiveness is key to moving on.

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