Well, we certainly hit the ground running with our first rally stop this morning. It was held in front of the Criminal Justice Building in downtown LA, a place Donna Jou's parents have visited and protested in front of too many times in the past 5 years. 19 year old college student Donna Jou disappeared in '07. A convicted sexual predator has confessed to being involved in her death and to dumping her body into the ocean. Her family believes that he is responsible for her death and is lying about the location of her remains. Without much evidence and only his version of what occurred he was convicted of just involuntary manslaughter and was released from prison after serving less than half of a 5 year sentence.
I was very pleased with the press turnout, which included not only local reporters but also national coverage including Dateline. The balloons had Donna's picture on one side and her information printed on the other, that's the first time I had seen that. Donna's father began with an emotional speech detailing all his frustrations with the criminal justice system. He said "...Why must we scream at them for justice and why do our screams fall only on deaf ears?" ; "From the day my daughter disappeared, every waking moment plunges me deeper into an ever-expanding downward spiral"; and " As decent human beings who respect humanity and cause no harm to others, we have the right to expect no harm to come to us...".
After he spoke the group moved to the balloon release area and sent them skyward, after Monica spoke and the family's Minister said a prayer. I watched as Donna's mom, Nili, stood excited next to Monica watching the balloons, but as they drifted further and further away she broke down sobbing uncontrollably. It was a sharp contrast from the woman I had encountered an hour earlier.A woman who greeted me with a huge smile, reminding me that we had met at a conference 4 years previously. A woman who had done so much to ensure this rally stop's success. A woman who was trying so hard to hold it all together. A woman who was willing to do anything to bring her missing child home. A woman who is so much like the too many mothers I have encountered over the last 7 years. I woman who reminds me so much of myself.