On Thursday, May 30, 300+ survivors, advocates, and activists rallied on the West Steps of the California Capitol and demanded that Governor Newsom and the California Legislature fund crime victim services. Echoing chants of, “Don’t balance the budget on our backs. No podemos equilibrar el presupuesto sobre las espaldas de los sobrevivientes.” 

Photo of rally participants at the California Capitol.

Survivors and advocates refused to leave any stone unturned while demanding funding for crime victim services, as Governor Newsom’s May Revision did not include the funds that would protect survivors and fund the organizations that support them, but the Assembly and Senate included $103 million in ongoing funding for crime victim services in their Joint Legislative Budget Proposal released on May 29.

Now as all eyes turn towards the Governor, survivors were heard loud and clear and had an overarching message: Governor Newsom MUST sign a budget that is not balanced on the backs of survivors and include $103 million in ongoing funding for crime victim services! Survivors speaking at the rally shared their stories about how crucial organizations and programs that receive this funding were to support their healing. Many revealed that they likely would not be where they are today without these services.

Sandra Henriquez speaking at the May VOCA Rally at the California Capitol.Sandra Henriquez, VALOR’s CEO, began the rally by sharing that we are no longer asking for funding, we are demanding it because, after 10 months of advocacy, the State has not stepped up to support survivors. She continued by demanding that we receive ongoing funding because the California Government is failing survivors by forcing them to convene at the Capitol, reliving their darkest and most traumatic experiences to demand funding for essential services.

Tina Rodriguez speaking at the May VOCA Rally at the California Capitol. Tina Rodriguez, survivor, founder of Beloved Survivors TRC, and Board President of VALOR, shared her story of experiencing childhood sexual abuse to highlight how important being an advocate for others was for her healing. Rodriguez also stated the need for ongoing funding because survivors should not have to come to the Capitol, year after year, for funding, saying that survivors cannot be, “ripping the bandages off of their wounds during every budget season.” 


Photo of Assemblymember Eloise Gomez Reyes speaking at May VOCA Rally.

Assemblymember Eloise Gómez Reyes, survivors’ fearless champion in the California Legislature, spoke on how bad budget years’ should not limit funding. She highlighted how crucial funding is for survivors to receive the services they need, that it is not a want. Reyes further discussed how important it is for survivors and advocates to continue pushing for funding from the Governor. 


Tamara Knox speaking at VOCA rally at the California Capitol.Tamara Knox of Beloved Survivors TRC also urged the California Legislature to believe her story and when she says how important advocates are when survivors need them most. Knox shared that advocates helped rescue her when she needed it and supported her in her healing. Without funding, survivors like Knox will be left behind and no one will be there for them when they need it the most. 



Elvira Herrera, survivor and Program Coordinator at Líderes Campesinas, shared her story of beingElvira Herrera speaking at VOCA Rally at the California Capitol kidnapped, raped, beaten, and shot so severely that when she was admitted to the hospital, she was dead. Without advocates, Elvira believes she would not be here today. Barragan urged Governor Newsom to sign a budget that includes funding for crime victim services that helped her and others like her after surviving crime. 



Rowena Chiu speaking at May VOCA Rally at the California Capitol.Survivor Rowena Chiu continued the narrative that California needs to step up and fund essential, life-saving services for survivors that were crucial in helping her heal after being sexually assaulted 20 years ago. As one of the first whistleblowers in the Harvey Weinstein case, Chiu posited that advocates of crime victim services are irreplaceable and save lives and that survivors “cannot live without” advocates and funding. 


Anabella Aguirre, survivor, instructor, and Co-Founder of the ¡Ya Basta!Anabella Aguirre of speaking at May VOCA Rally at the California Capitol. Center, shared her experiences of surviving two rapes while working on the night shift as a janitor. She urged the Legislature to listen to her story as an everyday person who experienced sexual violence. She revealed that without crime victim services, she would not have been able to break her silence and heal. Aguirre also advocates for funding for others like her, janitors, immigrants, and service-working women who have experienced crime, especially because, for many of them, “this is the only help that [they] have.”


Other survivors continued sharing their stories and speaking on how important advocates were after their traumatic experiences and guided their paths towards healing, including Alejandra Valles, the Secretary-Treasurer of Service Employees International Union (SEIU) United Service Workers West (USWW).

Tinisch Hollins speaking at the May VOCA Rally at the California Capitol.Lastly, Tinisch Hollins, the Executive Director of Californians for Safety and Justice, discussed her experiences as a survivor of crime who has also lost three siblings to homicide. Hollins powerfully stated that we cannot discuss public safety without discussing survivors of crime and that it is unacceptable that California is doing so. She went on to share that survivors, especially Black and people of color, are more often than not ignored when it comes to surviving crime. Without acknowledging them and supporting survivors of crime, California is not solving any problems for future survivors and only condemning them. 



Along with a moving demonstration by Koyasan Spirit of Children taiko drummers at the rally, survivors, advocates, allies, and the drummers marched to the Capitol Swing Space to stage a powerful demonstration to make sure legislators knew that they were not taking no for an answer when it comes to funding crime victim services. 

Photo of rally crown in front of the California Capitol marching towards the Swing Space. The large poster on the bottom center-right of the photo states "CA will have blood on its hands" and is covered with red handprints and a red colored in drawing of California state.

Survivors rallied in front of the Swing Space with taiko drummers while other survivors split up for public comment in the Senate Subcommittee 5 on Corrections, Public Safety, Judiciary, Labor and Transportation Hearing while others went into the Swing Space for demonstration and public comment in Assembly Budget Committee. 

Led by ¡Ya Basta! Center, Lideres Campesinas, and Alejandra Valles, the Secretary-Treasurer of SEIU United Service Workers West (USWW), the demonstration in the Swing Space included a “die-in” to highlight the very real consequence of lives lost should Governor Newsom not sign a budget that includes funding for crime victim services. 

Rally participants stage a "die in" inside of the Capitol Swing Space.

The message was clear: without Governor Newsom and Legislatures backfilling missing funding for survivors or crime, lives are very much in danger and State leadership needs to protect the state’s most vulnerable. Take action today and demand that Governor Newsom include $103 million in ongoing funding for crime victim services.