General Crime

* San Jose Victims Families Hold Candlelight Vigil At City Hall

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San Jose residents will gather in front of City Hall tonight for a candlelight vigil to honor victims of violent crime and the law enforcement officers who put offenders behind bars.The 7 p.m. vigil is the work of community activist Kathleen Flynn, who volunteers as a victim-offender mediator with the county’s dispute resolution program.”I wanted to do an event to focus on victims of violent crimes, and at the same time wanted to protest proposals to the city budget regarding cutting police and firefighters,” she said.The idea first took hold when she attended a peace march in honor of Vahid Hosseini, she said. The popular San Jose shopkeeper was robbed and murdered in a bank parking lot last May. Flynn went to college with Hosseini’s wife, LeeAnn.More than 200 people attended the rally, she recalled, holding pictures of murdered loved ones. “I looked across this sea of pictures and saw all these faces,” she said. “Nobody ever talks about these people. They don’t have a voice.”Tonight’s event will also be a display of support for law enforcement. Flynn hopes this will help discourage any city budget cuts that affect public safety.City officials are currently examining how to plug a $78 million budget gap. Preliminary budget proposals call for reducing staffing in some police units, eliminating the mounted police horse unit and closing two fire stations. San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed said last week he believes those cuts can be avoided with administrative changes, adjusted property tax revenues and bargaining agreements with city employees. “Our state and our city are going through terrible budget times,” Flynn said. I’m really fearful they’re going to cut our police even more.”The vigil will take place in the plaza outside the City Hall rotunda. Free glow sticks will be available.Speakers will include Santa Clara County District Attorney Dolores Carr, City Council member and former police officer Pete Constant, and spokesmen from the San Jose Police Officers Association and the local firefighters’ union.LeeAnn Hosseini and her daughter Casandra will speak, as will Sandy Fontana, the mother of San Jose police officer Jeffrey Fontana, who was shot and killed in October 2001. Casandra Hosseini, 27, said cutting police funding would mean fewer victims’ family members would see their loved ones’ murderers arrested and convicted. Police searched for nearly a year before making several arrests in her father’s killing last month. “I honestly feel that if my father’s murder occurred in any other city, it would not have been solved,” she said. “It took almost a year of hard police work.”

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