Empty chairs, open eyes
By ANDREW MCGINN
The public display of empty chairs last Thursday at the Greene County Community Center to raise awareness of domestic violence was, in a word, grim.
Each chair represented someone killed in Iowa by domestic violence.
But that wasn’t actually the grimmest part about the project.
“There are 248 chairs we could set out, but we don’t have the space,” confessed Alicia VanCannon, the ACCESS domestic violence services coordinator for Boone and Greene counties.
It was the third time this month — Domestic Violence Awareness Month — that ACCESS has set up empty chairs somewhere in Jefferson in partnership with the Greene County Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
ACCESS — Assault Care Center Extending Shelter and Support — provides free, confidential, 24-hour services in the area.
The chairs project evokes a mix of shock and anger, VanCannon said. A white flower on a chair represents a child killed.
The state of Iowa has been tallying the number of domestic violence homicides since 1995.
Adrienne Smith, of the Greene County Coalition Against Domestic Violence, can vouch that it can — and does — happen even here.
She said she’s lost two classmates from the Jefferson High School class of 1975 to domestic violence.
One of them, Janel Cadden, died of blunt trauma to the head in 2004.
Jerry Murphy pleaded guilty later that year to voluntary manslaughter.