Demonstrators hold ‘Justice for Daisy’ rally at courthouse steps in Maryville

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MARYVILLE, Mo. -- A rally termed ‘Justice for Daisy’ took place on the Nodaway County Courthouse lawn on Tuesday evening. Demonstrators had initially planned a protest due to a report from the Kansas City Star that raised questions after prosecutors dropped charges against a teenager  accused of raping Daisy Coleman in 2012.

The detailed report sparked nationwide outcry on the Internet and got the attention of hacktivist group, 'Anonymous.' Last week, Nodaway County Prosecutor Robert Rice announced he was calling for a special prosecutor to be appointed for an independent review of the case.

It has now been placed in the hands of Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker. The gathering once fashioned as a protest evolved into what organizers termed, ‘A rally for justice.’

More than 400 people showed up on the courthouse lawn on Tuesday night in support of Coleman and said that all victims deserve to have their voices heard. The message was to move from a culture of rape violence and victim blaming to victim advocacy.

Coleman, nor her mother, Melinda Coleman, were at the rally. But through flowers bearing Daisy's name, and signs calling for justice, Daisy Coleman's presence was felt.

The crowd -- filled with both men and women from all over the country heard from a local women's rights group and a sex assault survivor.

The rally wasn’t without opposition -- two girls wearing shirts that said, ‘Why are you here? You're hurting not helping,’ say nobody knows the real story.

“I feel like there hasn't been enough blame on the victim,” attendee Ally Carter said.

“I feel there’s actually real rape victims that need more attention than this situation,” attendee Justina Chirstofferson said.

A woman from Chicago had a terse response for both of them.

“I’m here because of that attitude and young people need to stop that attitude. There is nothing, I don't care what side of this you’re on, there is no reason to talk that way about anyone who says they've been raped,” the woman said.

In the end a candlelight vigil and moment of silence sent one speaker’s message loud and clear.

“When an injustice happens to one in the community, an injustice happens to the community.  Daisy and Page we are here for you today,” the speaker said.

Rally organizers said they believe that progress is being made with Baker’s appointment to give the case a second look. They also said the more this issue is discussed, the more that can be done to stop sexual violence everywhere.


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