More than 100 people will gather and march Thursday to raise awareness of the 239 cases of domestic violence, sexual assault and violent crime that occurred in Otsego County last year, an organizer said.
Will Rivera, program director of Opportunities for Otsego’s Violence Intervention Program said each year, the program teams with SUNY Oneonta, Hartwick College and Family Planning of South Central New York to sponsor a Take Back The Night event, to raise awareness and show support for victims of assault and violence.
Take Back The Night is a foundation that seeks to end sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and sexual abuse, according to its website. The first event was held in Philadelphia in October of 1975 after a young microbiologist, Susan Alexander Speeth, was brutally murdered, the website said. Speeth was stabbed to death by a stranger a block away from her home while walking by herself one night.
Since then, thousands of Take Back The Night events have occurred across the country to break the silence about these issues, Rivera said. At Oneonta’s annual Take Back The Night, supporters and victims march through the city, chanting and empowering each other in a celebratory manner, rather than a solemn one, Rivera said.
This year’s march will be this Thursday from 6:30 p.m. to roughly 8:30 p.m. and will begin in front of SUNY Oneonta’s Milne Library, where there will be several speeches, Rivera said. The group of marchers will then proceed downtown, stopping at various destinations along the way and hearing from student poets, and will conclude in the Kim Muller Plaza on Main Street, where SUNY Oneonta’s a capella group Hooked On Tonics will perform and a candlelight vigil will be held for all victims of violent crimes.
According to Oneonta Police Chief Dennis Nayor, this kind of incident is not often reported to police. In 2013, only two women reported assault by an unknown assailant, Nayor said. Statistically, most attacks are carried out by someone the victim knows, but that doesn’t mean attacks by strangers never happen, he said.