Candlelight vigil honors victims, families at state Capitol

LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker was joined by dozens of elected officials, law enforcement officers, advocates, friends and family members of victims and victims themselves Tuesday evening at the state Capitol to celebrate the 29th annual Michigan Crime Victims Vigil.

The event was hosted by the Crime Victim Foundation and takes place at the Capitol every April in conjunction with National Crime Victims’ Rights Week.

“I’ve had the privilege to meet some incredible people throughout my tenure as co-chair of the crime victim’s caucus and involvement with this event,” said Schuitmaker, R-Lawton. “The pain of losing a loved one never goes away, but occasions like this provide an opportunity to gather and reflect with those who share similar stories.

“Attending this vigil is always a very moving experience for everyone. This year in particular was poignant as we acknowledged and remembered the victims of the shooting in Kalamazoo last year,” she added.

Schuitmaker presented the Crime Victim Advocate of the Year award to Stella Chivikas, a victim advocate in the Kalamazoo County prosecutor’s office who worked with the shooting victims and their families.

Schuitmaker on Tuesday also introduced Senate Resolution 45, which recognizes and acknowledges the importance of crime victims’’ rights here in Michigan. SR 45 had a host of bipartisan co-sponsors and was unanimously adopted by the Senate.

“I am proud of the work our state has done to protect victims and their families and I was once again humbled to be able to participate in this event,” Schuitmaker said. “We can never forget the struggles victims face and we must all do our part to support them however we are able.”

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Editor’s Note: The above photograph is available by clicking on the image or by visiting Schuitmaker’s website at www.SenatorTonyaSchuitmaker.com. Click on “Photowire” under the Media Center tab.

Photo caption: Pictured from left to right: State Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker, R-Lawton, joins Kalamazoo County Victim Advocate Stella Chivikas, Sen. Margaret O’Brien, R-Portage, Sen. Steven Bieda, D-Warren and Attorney General Bill Schuette at the annual Crime Victim’s Rights candlelight vigil Tuesday evening.