Anchorage park commemorates 414 victims lost to violent crime
A non-profit dedicated to ending violent crime in Alaska put the finishing touches on a memorial park in Anchorage Saturday.
Victims for Justice has been working alongside the Municipality of Anchorage to beautify Hostetler Park on the corner of 3rd Ave and L St. for years. On Saturday, they unveiled a headstone officially dedicating the park to victims of violent crimes in Alaska. Multiple families joined in commemorating the park and remembering loved ones.
"Thank you for coming here today, and sharing the memory of your loved ones with all of us," Chaplain for Anchorage police and fire departments Diane Peterson said to begin the ceremony.
Peterson confirmed that Anchorage’s homicide rate is higher this year than it was at this time in 2018. Additionally, Alaska is second in the nation per capita for homicide rates, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
According to Paula Bradison, a board member with Victims for Justice, each death ripples through families and communities.
"Sadly, homicide is on the rise here already,” Bradison said. “There is a ripple effect. So, you can imagine when one person dies of homicide -- there's the perpetrator who has to go through the justice system, and then all the people they know, and all the people that loved and honored the person that was taken… it takes a toll on so many people.”
Hostetler Park is encircled by pillars listing names of victims of violent crime. Flowers decorate the base of each pillar, where families of the victims come to remember their loved ones.
Bradison says Saturday’s event was all about coming together to put the cycle of grief on hold – if only for an afternoon.
"I'm looking out here in awe of what it takes just to show up here today. It's hard,” Bradison said to the crowd of victims’ families. “What we don't want to do is give credence to what happened to these individuals. We want to give credence to their life."
This week, Victims for Justice added another 20 names to the monument, bringing the park's commemorative total to 414 people lost to violent crimes.