Events bringing awareness to domestic violence and sexual assault kicked off in communities throughout Alaska today.
A local rally, titled "Choose Respect," took place Thursday afternoon at Golden Heart Plaza in downtown Fairbanks.
The events were organized by Governor Sean Parnell's administration and the Alaska Network on Domestic Violence
and Sexual Assault.
Law enforcement officials, local leaders and advocates were on hand challenging Alaskans to "step up" and "Choose Respect"
to end crimes that they say "damage the state, families, children, communities and cultures."
Corrine Biedermann, a relative of Fairbanks homicide victim Ellen Rada, was one of the featured speakers at the downtown rally.
Biedermann voiced societal concerns with violence against women, sayng it can "no longer be taken lightly."
"It's never been funny," said Biedermann. "Domestic violence has never been a funny subject, it's always been something serious.
But society has begun to change and that's what we need to change."
Ellen Rada was beaten to death by her boyfriend Rick Allen in late June, 2012.
Originally charged with Second Degree Murder in the case, Allen struck a plea deal with prosecutors on reduced charges in exchange for a seven to eleven year
Beidermann called the plea deal and upcoming sentence "outrageous."
She says violence of this kind can no longer be tolerated.
"We need to change society so that society will not stand for this anymore," said Beidermann. "We're coming closer and closer, (but) we have alot of work to
do. We need everyone."