Isanti County participates in domestic violence action day

Twenty-one lives were lost to domestic violence in Minnesota in 2016.

Twenty-one roses were placed in a vase to honor the 21 victims of domestic homicide in the state of Minnesota in 2016. Photos by Austin Gerth
Twenty-one roses were placed in a vase to honor the 21 victims of domestic homicide in the state of Minnesota in 2016. Photo by Austin Gerth

Officials in Isanti, Kanabec and Chisago counties gathered to reaffirm their commitment to working on the issue in their communities March 7, a statewide day of action to end domestic violence.

The Refuge Network, a Family Pathways program that provides help to domestic violence victims in the tri-county area, hosted a program at the Isanti County Government Center to raise awareness about the issue of domestic violence and also call those in attendance to take action to end domestic violence in their communities.

The theme of the program was “It Happens Here,” highlighting that domestic violence happens in communities of all sizes across the country. More than 20 locations across the state participated in the day of action.

Advocates from all three counties spoke, a proclamation was read professing local governments’ continuing commitment to combating domestic violence, and a ceremony was conducted to honor the lives lost to domestic violence in Minnesota in the past year.

The names and circumstances of death of every person killed by domestic violence in Minnesota in 2016 were read aloud, and for each one a rose was placed in a vase — 21 roses total for the 21 domestic violence deaths in the state each year. Red roses were placed for women who were victims of domestic homicide, and white roses were placed for children and one innocent bystander killed last year.

During the Cambridge City Council meeting March 6, Cambridge Mayor Marlys Palmer proclaimed March 7 as A Day of Action to End Domestic Violence. Pictured from left are Isanti County Sheriff Chris Caulk; Jennifer Kotila, Isanti Community Advocate with The Refuge Network; Council Member Jim Godfrey; Palmer; and Council Members Kersten Barfknecht Conley, Lisa Iverson and Joe Morin. Photo by Rachel Kytonen
During the Cambridge City Council meeting March 6, Cambridge Mayor Marlys Palmer
proclaimed March 7 as A Day of Action to End Domestic Violence. Pictured from left are Isanti County Sheriff Chris Caulk; Jennifer Kotila, Isanti Community Advocate with The Refuge Network; Council Member Jim Godfrey; Palmer; and Council Members Kersten Barfknecht Conley, Lisa Iverson and Joe Morin. Photo by Rachel Kytonen

The oldest victim of domestic homicide in Minnesota last year was 85 years old. The youngest was 10.

Other speakers included Isanti County Commissioner Susan Morris, Char Hansen Weidendorf of the Black Dog Hill Shelter located between Isanti and Chisago counties, and Isanti County Attorney Jeff Edblad. A statement from state Rep. Brian Johnson, who could not be present in person, was read encouraging further action to stop domestic violence.

Edblad said there are an average of 35 people killed in domestic homicides in Minnesota each year.

“These are real individuals made of flesh and blood who lived and loved as we all do,” Edblad said.

Black Dog Hill manager Char Hansen Weidendorf called on those present to contact their governmental representatives about continuing to fund and support the 80 domestic violence programs that provide services to victims in Minnesota.

“Our elected officials have the responsibility to maintain support for these lifesaving services,” she said. “We must make sure there is no erosion in services and support.”

So far in 2017, there have been two domestic homicides in Minnesota.

For more information on The Refuge Network and the Black Dog Hill domestic violence shelter, visit therefugenetwork.org.

The Refuge Network’s crisis hotline is 800-338-7233.

Rep. Johnson can be reached by email at [email protected] or by phone at 651-296-4346.