Marsy’s Law supporters gather on election night

Abuse survivor and Marsy's Law supporter Waunchya Everett (photo by Angelia Pressley)Abuse survivor and Marsy's Law supporter Waunchya Everett (photo by Angelia Pressley)

On Tuesday night many women who suffered cruelty at the hands of men were at the Battery’s Omni Hotel waiting for the results of the  Marsy’s Law referendum.

One such person was Haralyn Rauls whose exploitation began with an uncle. From there she was molested by eight other men. When asked how she fell victim so many times, Rauls answered, “I attracted bad,” and as that law of attraction continued she fell into the hands of sex traffickers who ran her life.

Break the silence,” she said is the key to survival and turning one’s life around. “Tell someone and leave.”

Marsy’s Law Legislative Advocate Tomeko Pugh, (photo by Angelia Pressley)

Marsy’s Law Legislative Advocate Tomeko Pugh, (photo by Angelia Pressley)

Tomeko Pugh, a legislative advocate for Marsy’s Law was prey due to the absence of a law to alert crime victims. Currently a spokesperson for Marsy’s Law, Pugh suffered at the hands of her husband who was jailed for numerous assaults against her. When he was released, she was not notified, and he showed up at a client’s viewing of a home where she was working as a realtor. Under the current law, the state did not bear the burden to inform victims their persecutors were back on the streets. Marsy’s Law will change that.

Pugh explained Marsy’s Law: “Under the Client Victim Rights Bill-Amendment 4 on the current ballot, we’re adding it to the Constitution. The accused has rights, but victims have none. Adding it to the Constitution will level the playing field and give victims the chance to protect themselves.”

The gathering rewarded the warriors for their courage in continuing to bring awareness, as well as helping other targets of mistreatment.

Erica Thomas

Erica Thomas (Photo by Angelia Pressley)

Among the supporters of the new legislation was State Representative Erica Thomas. Addressing the audience from the podium she said, “Tonight you will see the results of hard work. It was amazing for 180 … Representatives and Senators to vote on something and millions and millions of Georgians to vote on something, the same thing. The night is not about me or anyone else. It is about crime victims having their rights.”

Throughout the evening, Ms. Thomas worried little about the results of her bid for re-election, and instead seemed to be fixated on Florida’s Governor’s race. She was hoping for a win for Gillum, who she campaigned for during the 2018 season.

Thomas said of her next steps, “I think we can do a lot more to boost to economic development. Helping to bring more businesses in the district. We are beginning to get the restaurants my constituents were asking for. It’s the beginning of new development. We also have new senior services and might even have a new city in Mableton.”

Waunchya Everett, also a survivor of abuse, weighed in on what she thought about the mid-term races, and said “I think it is very important. I am hoping the Dems win tonight. I think it’s the best right. Hatred, bigotry and because of the cabinet that is in right now, people believe it gives them the right [to be divisive].”

Former State Representative Buzz Brockway, was hopeful about the law being passed. “Early returns look good. Marsy’s Law takes victims and places them in the state’s Constitution, and they will get notification if their assailant is out on bail.”

Aside from Amendment #4 advocates, the watch party included people from all over metropolitan Atlanta, such as a Fulton County Commissioner, a Wellstar business development executive and residents of Clayton and DeKalb Counties.

Marsy’s Law passed with 80.91 percent of the vote in Georgia this week. Other states that have approved similar legislation are Hawaii, Montana, Nevada, South Dakota, Florida, Maine, and North Carolina. Marsy’s Law is named after Marsalee “Marsy” Nicholas, who was stalked and killed by her ex-boyfriend in 1983.

Representative Erica Thomas defeated her opponent Republican James Morrow by 83 percent to his 17 percent.