Thank you for inviting me to the rally and giving me the opportunity to speak with you. Gil is sorry she cannot be here but she is helping the children of Zambia with a medical mission. She feels that since she could not save her daughter that she can save someone’s child.

 I am here to support the TBTN and stress the need for societal change in the respect for woman and men, that society must stop seeing women as prey.  I never would have thought that I would have had to deal with the death of my precious daughter, Morgan Dana Harrington.  Morgan, a junior at Virginia Tech, was murdered on October 17, 2009 here in Charlottesville by someone who likely sexually assaulted her, then killed her and left her body in a pasture on Anchorage Farm, just south of here.  Morgan’s death has catapulted us to places that we would never have thought we would go, being here tonight is now an opportunity that I would not have thought of before, we have been see many times on national media, we have been in the Halls of Congress, we have spent too many hours with LE, we have been to restaurants and rock concerts raising money for Morgan and we have cried as we held our daughter’s skeleton.

Morgan was at JPJ to attend the Metallica concert.  For unknown reasons, Morgan left the arena and was not allowed to reenter.  That was only one of a series of errors that ultimately led to her disappearance and ultimate death.  That day of the concert  Morgan and her Mother shared their last time together.  Morgan was a modest dresser, she and Gil picked out a loose tee shirt with Pantera printed on the front, a black mini skirt, back leggings and black boots.  She was totally covered up except for her beautiful face.

On the days after that tragic night, it was reported by media and by some police that Morgan was dressed provocatively, implying that Morgan tempted someone to assault and kill her.  The only thing Morgan did that night was to have her beautiful face showing and she made herself vulnerable.  She did not cause her murder, a coward who could control and lord over Morgan caused her death. It is time to stop blaming the victim!

Even over the past week, Gil and I have been assaulted by the Westboro Baptist Church who published a degrading poster implying Morgan deserved to die.  This so call church, has launched  a post mortem attack on my dead daughter and will be at Virginia Tech tomorrow to protest and advertise that Morgan deserved to die. It is time to stop blaming the victim!

Who would have ever thought Gil and I would have had to deal with the death of our child.  Our experience has given us a new appreciation for the preciousness of life.  Morgan will never graduate, have a career, marry, have a child and grow old. Morgan’s killer, who had no respect for her, walks among you in Charlottesville each day doing all the things he took away from Morgan.

We are her to work for the day that women and men respect one another, that women can be safe, and can stop feeling afraid.  We pray for the day that a young girl does not have to be at risk, is not blamed when they are the victim, and does not become a statistic.   We pray for the day when fear is not one of our nation’s operating principles. 

We need to support women men who are afraid to ask for help, afraid to press changes, and who are made to feel as if they are the problem.  We need to support women and men who are assaulted so they will seek prosecution of the perpetrators.  We need to not have organizations sweep these assaults under the rug and pretend it doesn’t happen here.

Gil and I are determined that Morgan’s life be remembered and that her death not be in vain.  We appreciate your invitation to help you Take Back the Night.

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3 Responses to “Dan Harrington’s talk to the Charlottesville Take Back the Night rally”

  1. kelly says:

    I am outraged that the “church” is doing this to your beautiful daughter…total outrage…Our girls are always blamed for how they dress even when modest..it is not right that our girls have to be afraid all the time, gone are the days when they can ride their bikes, walk on the sidewalk and talk with friends,go to the mall and feel safe…i have a daughter, 18, i have stressed always the danger of being alone even for one minute in this world…parents worry all the time over their children and to be taken away in one second and then be blamed for this is an outrage. My prayers are always with you and your family…always and forevermore…..

  2. Leslie Hartman says:

    Dan, it was a pleasure to meet you last week near the Copley Bridge.Thank you for taking the time to talk with me and my friend. I am so sorry for what you and your family have gone through.I continue to pray for justice for Morgan. I placed a small item that I made for Morgan at her memorial on the bridge.I won’t ever forget her or your family. I don’t understand why this so called “church” group is so hateful. They are evil! I send you and your family only love! Love into the universe!Love conquers evil always! I wish that I could take away the pain and sadness you all feel.I will continue to keep a protective eye out for others in this world especially our children. Justice will prevail!

  3. lyn says:

    It is apparent Morgan loved you, from the letter she wrote in grade school to this past summer’s cherished memories.

    I find it painful to think life can be so cruel.

    You are a beautiful family, beautiful in present the tense, and no one can take that away.

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