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People Against Violent Crime honor victims' family members & friends with Tree of Angels Ceremony

A table of ornaments to hang on the memorial Tree of Angels at People Against Violent Crime ceremony on December 6.

Peoples Against Violent Crime is a statewide organization, founded in 1982 and formed in memory of all those who have suffered as victims of violent crime.

The organization founded the Tree of Angels in 1991, in order to recognize the holiday season as a very difficult time for victims of violent crimes and their families.

The Tree of Angels ceremony allows and honors surviving victims and their families, by making it possible for loved ones to bring an Angel Ornament to place on a special Christmas Tree.  Since its inception, the Tree of Angels has become a memorable tradition observed throughout Texas communities.

Governor Rick Perry issued a statewide Proclamation — as his predecessor, George W. Bush, did  — that designated last week, December 3-9, as Tree of Angels week, recognizing the difficulty of the holiday season.

Lamar County and the City of Paris also issued the same Proclamation for Tree of Angels Week.

In honor and memory of those lost or suffering from violent crimes, on December 6, People Against Violent Crimes and citizens of the community gathered at the Central Presbyterian Church for a Tree of Angels Week Ceremony.

Mayor AJ Hashmi reads City of Paris Proclamation declaring last week the memorial Tree of Angels Week.

Honorable Judge M.C. Superville, Jr. read the Lamar County Proclamation and Mayor AJ Hashmi provided a reading of the City of Paris Proclamation, both stating the difficulty that the holiday season brings for those that have lost family and friends to violent crime.

First Assistant District Attorney, Jill Drake, was the speaker for the evening.  She spoke on many aspects of the legal system, discussing the prosecution process, witness statements, victim testimony, and the sentencing process.

She stated while speaking, that she has not lost anyone to violence, but she has begun to understand the grief and pain it causes through the cases she’s worked, and tried to offer some insight into the judicial system to those experiencing it.

While many of the people at the ceremony had experienced the legal process, many of the victim family members had not, such as Margaret Yates, who’s brother went missing a little over three years ago in Fannin County; a case that remains an open Missing Persons case, not yet making it to the court room.

“Some of the victims/families, as in my circumstance, are dealing with cases that haven’t made it that far,” Mrs. Yates stated.  “We are still going through all those emotions and phases of the grieving process.  It helps to hear from people that have walked a mile in our shoes.”

This is Mrs. Yates third year of coming to the Tree of Angels Ceremony.

Following the featured speaker, Victim Advocate, Wanda Bayley, announced the dedication of the Tree of Angels and those that were in attendance hung Angel Ornaments in honor of those that they have lost to violence.

Crowds of people gathered around two trees at the front of the Sanctuary for the adornment.

It is a necessity of the community to join together to remember, include and support victims of crime who are a part of our lives and communities.

In closing, Silent Night was sang by the entire congregation and a reception followed.

People Against Violent Crime has a purpose of ‘finding solutions to violent crimes, which are consistent with the principles of a free democratic and constitutional system of government and to work with legislative and judicial branches of government, other organizations, and other professions in finding solutions to these violent crimes.

For more information and to help with their cause, visit their website at

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