Tree-lighting ceremony illuminates Orange’s battle against domestic violence

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ORANGE, NJ — Orange hosted its second annual purple tree lighting on Tuesday, Oct. 15, to raise consciousness about domestic violence, honor survivors, remember victims and encourage advocates. Oct. 1 marked the beginning of Domestic Violence Awareness Month nationwide, and the purple lights will remain on the trees and the building will be lit until the end of the month.

According to Councilwoman at large Adrienne Wooten, who attended last week’s ceremony, members of the gathering spoke about their experiences facing domestic violence and their efforts to eradicate it. The Rev. Reverend H. William Rutherford III of the Ebenezer Baptist Church implored all men to take an active stand against this plague on the community.

“It was such an honor for me to participate in such an important event,” Rutherford told the Record-Transcript on Monday, Oct. 21. “I was encouraged by the sentiment and support expressed by community stakeholders, led by Councilwoman Wooten, around addressing domestic violence. More needs to be done, but this was a good and important step.”

Orange Mayor Dwayne Warren, who is also a Police Athletic League and the Angel Project volunteer, urged various members of his administration to be the frontline of defense, keeping their eyes open to victims and providing them with information on resources.

“I applaud the efforts that we put forth in combating domestic violence,” Warren told the Record-Transcript on Thursday, Oct. 17. “I have charged city offices who come in contact with the public to be armed with information filled with resources to assist those who may be in need. The eradication of this scourge commands our collective work and responsibility.”

For Wooten, domestic violence is a subject that hits close to home.

“Domestic violence is real,” she said Thursday, Oct. 17. “It has no regard for your race, color or creed. It is a nasty phenomenon that affects all communities. What we did here tonight demonstrated a unified force of resistance against domestic violence. As a survivor of domestic violence, I was pleasantly overwhelmed by the strong show of support.”

In her closing remarks, Wooten offered a prayer, saying, “Violence shall no more be heard in thy land, wasting nor destruction within thy borders; but thou shalt call thy walls Salvation, and thy gates Praise.”

“Domestic Violence continues to be one of the most under-reported crimes, and yet has the highest rate of death fatalities across the United States,” police Director Todd Warren said Thursday, Oct. 17.

Warren, who deals with domestic violence cases on a regular basis, added, “The Orange Police Department and municipal court are a creating court referral initiative designed to help victims of intimate partner abuse. Supporting and empowering our victims is critically important to the healing process. My department is committed to not only enforce the law, but to support the needs of our community.”

South Ward Councilwoman Jamie Summers-Johnson also attended the ceremony, saying she had come to support the fight against domestic violence.

“The best part of last night’s Domestic Violence event was that, not only were there more men than women in attendance, the men pledged to get involved and not condone violence against women,” she told the Record-Transcript on Wednesday, Oct. 16.

Photos by EmilyAnn Jackman