District Attorney’s office unveils annual quilt ceremony

Exeter Police Lieutenant Liz Yarbar looks at a display of victims lost to violent crimes from a past event in 2022.(Rigo Moran)

Tulare County District Attorney’s office to host annual Victims of Crime memorial ceremony for National Crime Victims’ Rights Week

TULARE COUNTY – While the images on the 2024 Victim of Crime quilt might represent violent crime in Tulare County when looked at individually, they become a powerful and emotional tribute to victims when stitched together, particularly for those whose families are not yet ready to share their grief.

The annual unveiling of the Memorial Quilt Ceremony, hosted by the Office of the Tulare County District Attorney, is making its return on April 25 at the Visalia Convention Center at 6 p.m., and is free and open to the public.

“What this event is about is bringing those survivors together to be able to share their common experiences and hear some uplifting words from people who have gone before them, and who have experienced things they have experienced,” said Stuart Anderon, communications director for the office of the District Attorney of Tulare County.

This year’s unveiling will be the 24th opportunity for the district attorney’s (DA) office to help bring survivors together and craft a path forward during National Crime Victims’ Rights week, which is April 21–27 this year. What was once just a handful of people has swelled to a community that supports one another in the face of tragedy. The DA’s office posts every quilt online along with information about each of the people who are represented.

“Not too many people can say they have experienced these things, and say they have been impacted by violent crime,” Anderson said. “Being able to provide an event that these people can come together is one of the things we have had the pleasure of doing since 2000.”

The Garden of Hope Ministries is responsible for making the quilts while the DA’s office media department works with families to put together the images.

Ultimately, the goal of the event is to spread awareness to victims of crime that they have an opportunity to seek justice. Thousands of crimes go unreported each year in Tulare County, but the DA’s office has started using social media and dedicated software to address cold case crimes to locate, identify and prosecute individuals who commit violent crimes.

“The door to justice will open, things will progress, technology will evolve, and while many have received their justice that they have waited for, the door will be open if you are still waiting,” Anderson said. “It may not be today, and it may not be tomorrow, but it will happen. We will be working on behalf of victims of violent crime.”

Anderson went on to explain that those who are represented on the quilt are not just victims of crimes that occurred within the last year, it’s for families who are ready to participate in the ceremony.

“Sometimes, it takes a lot of years. It is not immediate,” Anderson said. “These squares are from the heart, these are from the very soul, that they are ready to memorialize this person, that they are ready for this journey.”

In discussing the unveiling and the process of crafting the quilt, Anderson mentioned the “intertwining” process that happens as each family shares such a personal experience and then realizes that they actually share a similar experience that is felt throughout the community.

Overall, the unveiling of a quilt that is made to commemorate people who were lost to violence might seem insignificant to some people, but this event might be the most important thing that any person could attend, according to Anderson.

“It started off very small and intimate, and it has grown over the years to hundreds of people who attend, and many families look forward to attending every year and coming back,” Anderson said.

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