In the aftermath of the James Eagan Holmes movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado, millions of dollars have been raised to benefit the families of the 12 people killed, but the victims' families now say they are upset with the way that money is being distributed.
Since the shooting, $5 million has been raised, and $450,000 distributed, of which close to 80% has gone to the Colorado Organization for Victim Assistance ($5,000 each will go to the families of the 70 victims). The remainder of the money has been given to 10 different nonprofit groups.
On Tuesday, Tom Teves, father of one of the victims and spokesman for the affected families, criticized fundraisers for not giving victims a voice in how the money is being distributed. Teves questioned Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper's commitment to assisting the victims, saying, "You pledged 12 times that "We will remember." Are you a man who is true to his words, or were they just words?"
Teves accused fundraising groups of being unresponsive to the victims' needs, saying anyone who was affected by the shooting should be eligible to receive help.
As the James Eagan Holmes trial drags on in the coming days, and the scene from the courtroom unfolds on the front pages of newspapers across America, it's important that we not lose sight of the victims in this tragedy, and the way they are being compensated. Of course, no amount of funds can change the events of that night in Aurora, but how America treats the families of the victims says a lot about our commitment to justice in this tragic episode. The families' wishes cannot go unnoticed.
Gov. John Hickenlooper must remain committed to serving the interests of those affected by the tragedy.
As of now, Marla Williams, president of the Community First Foundation, has said a group has been set up to recommend how to spend the donations, but no victims' representatives had been chosen yet. The sooner that process takes place, the better.