Family, Friends of Violent Crime Victims Gather at Capitol

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SACRAMENTO -- Umbrellas hid their tears.

"It has been said that the rain is God's tears. So perhaps it is fitting that we have rain this morning. Because I believe God weeps with each of us as we weep for our lived ones," said Nina Salarno Besselman, president of Crime Victims United.

People gathered at the Capitol to thank first responders and state legislators. It's the 21st annual march to the Capitol for the family and friends of victims of violent crimes.

"We're here to just ask that you remember us. Remember that we have rights, and work with us to preserve public safety," Salarno Besselman said.

California leads the nation in passing laws protecting victims of violent crime.

In 2008, voters passed Marcy's Law, which expands the legal rights of crime victims to include protection from the defendant, notifications of court proceedings and restitution.

Last September, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a bill that eliminates the statute of limitations for rape cases. But Brown said he still has a lot of work to do. He wants to reform the state's prison system.

"People come in, and people go out. And when people go out, they better be a lot better than when they went in. And that's certainly my pledge and my challenge," Brown said.

This is Nicole Clavo's second time attending the event.

"November 13th, 2015, is like yesterday," she said.

That's when her 17-year-old son JJ Clavo was gunned down at a stop sign in Del Paso Heights.

JJ's photo is with her everywhere she goes. For all the victims here -- the memory of their loved one is displayed for all to see. This year, there were about 50 photos added to the long line of photos displayed at the Capitol.

It's a group no one wants to be a part of. But here they are. They say having each other isn't going to help them get over it. But it helps them to cope.

"Tomorrow, my grieving is not over. Ten years from now, my grieving is not over. I will just have learned to understand it, deal with it, and accept it more. But grief is continuous, and support is always needed," Clavo said.

Clavo opened this year's event with a simple prayer. She says the goal is to spare another family her pain. And it starts, she says, with us.

"These pictures have to stop. As a community, as a city, it's all of our responsibility to try to curtail some of these shootings and murders," she said.

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