MIAMI (CBSMiami) – There was a vocal march of more than a dozen mothers of murder victims and activists, and a crowded scene at the front entrance of the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office Thursday morning was designed to send a clear message to the woman in charge on the fourth floor.
“The police is making arrests. But there’s no justice for any of these families,” said Tangela Sears, president of “Mothers of Murdered Kids.”
The mothers of murdered children, teens and young adults have not felt the relief of seeing their child’s killer convicted. They blamed State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle and her team for it.
“The prosecutor is not concerned about my son’s case. The prosecution is not concerned about me as a grieving mother. They don’t care,” said Joanne Brady, the mother of 29-year-old murder victim Jermaine Allen.
The group pointed to the State Attorney’s large, well-attended press conference in December announcing the arrest of the suspect in the murder of Rabbi Joseph Raksin.
They allege their cases are not receiving the same attention.
“They were determined to get to the bottom of that case, we want the same justice,” said Sears.
The protest outside the State Attorney’s office is a marked difference for the activist group. Sears has long worked side by side with Fernandez Rundle but she told CBS4’s Natalia Zea she feels the prosecutors lately are not responding to the needs of the victims’ families.
Miami-Dade Police Union President John Rivera says officers are doing their part.
“We’ve become a judicial system here where plea bargains are far more important than putting the violent criminals away,” he said.
Fernandez Rundle released this statement Thursday evening:
“Having previously met with the members of “Mothers of Murdered Kids’” on several occasions, I fully understand the concerns that each of these parents have, particularly when the murder of their child remains unsolved. I am a mother too and I can only imagine the grief that they feel. This grief and sadness is further compounded by no one being arrested and prosecuted. Therefore, they feel no justice exists for their loss.
Today, only 5 of 100 shooting/homicide incidents (5%) in the Liberty City area result in an arrest. This means that in 95 out of 100 cases, parents have had no opportunity to engage in the criminal justice system or with my office. This also means that of the same 100 cases only 5 prosecutors will ever see a case come into their office or have a police officer bring them evidence. No wonder parents are frustrated and they should be.
No arrests mean no one faces a judge. No witnesses coming forward to assist the police means that there is little evidence coming to the officers assigned these cases. Almost every solved case has had someone willing to speak to police to give some important information. In the past, police allocated greater resources to community police projects which, while personnel intensive, allowed residents to know and trust their neighborhood officers. Those staff intensive programs no longer exist in high crime areas or have been modified to reduce officer demand.
I have previously reached out to Mayor Carlos Gimenez regarding allocating more officers to solve these crimes, in the short run, and to keep those additional officers in the community for the long run.
The following, in my opinion, should be on the highest priority for law enforcement and our community:
Reinstitute a robust community policing program in our most vulnerable neighborhoods, address the need to recruit and retain the most experienced homicide detectives as well as detectives that investigate contact shootings, more law enforcement presence and attention in our public housing, more police victim advocates to restore confidence in our community.”
The mothers turned activists acknowledge the violence against young people is a complex issue, with no easy answer.
The grandmother of one murder victim said, “You could blame whoever you want but we as parents, we need to step up also. We as the community, we need to step up also. But we need help. It’s got to end.”