Michael Hancock speaks on the "unspeakable pain" of his sister's murder (VIDEO)

This week's cover story, "The Victim Lobby," examines the victim rights movement in Colorado -- its remarkable growth and accomplishments, as well as the controversy over who truly "speaks" for victims in court or in the legislature. But few in high places speak as powerfully, or as knowledgeably, about the kind of intimate losses suffered through violent crime than Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, whose sister Karen was killed by her ex-boyfriend in 2002.

Hancock rarely discusses the impact of his sister's death, but he found a fitting forum last month to do just that last month as the keynote speaker at a local gathering outside the Lindsey-Flanigan Courthouse to mark the National Day of Remembrance for Murder Victims. It was, he said, a lesson "about unspeakable pain," one that left him with "a bazillion questions as to why my loved one had to go."

It was also a call to action. Hancock urged the crowd, mostly parents or spouses of homicide victims, to find the "purpose" behind the tragedy in each of their lives. While he spoke, he noted, Travis Forbes was in a courtroom in the building behind him, pleading guilty to first-degree murder in the death of Kenia Monge. "We hold everyone accountable," Hancock said.

To see the mayor's entire address, check out the extra-shaky video below. For more of the remembrance ceremony, which touched on several still-unsolved homicides, go to National Day of Remembrance for Murder Victims.

More from our Follow That Story archive: "Brandon Sigala tattoo fundraiser remembers beloved skateboarder, murder victim."

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Alan Prendergast has been writing for Westword for over thirty years. He teaches journalism at Colorado College; his stories about the justice system, historic crimes, high-security prisons and death by misadventure have won numerous awards and appeared in a wide range of magazines and anthologies.
Contact: Alan Prendergast