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Cleveland kidnapping survivor speaks out on fourth anniversary of rescue

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CLEVELAND — On the fourth anniversary of the Seymour Avenue kidnapping rescue in Cleveland, one of the survivors stood alongside local activists to share a hopeful message.

With balloons in her hand, Michelle Knight, now known as Lily Lee, attended a rally held in her honor on Saturday.

In front of the vacant lot where the home she was held captive once stood, a small, rain-soaked crowd paused to remember the abduction abuse.

“Every day a person is being abused,” Lee told the crowd.

More than a dozen speakers addressed the crowd.

“We didn’t find them quickly, and too often, women disappear, children disappear,” Rep. Nickie Antonio said. “And we have to make sure that the resources are there to find them.”

Many of the speakers asked for changes at the local, state and national level to prevent history from repeating itself.

“We need public policy makers to do more for women, to do more for children,” rally organizer Kathy Wray Coleman said.

Speakers spoke about the need to increase funding to address violence against women and children, human trafficking and missing persons.

“What happened four years ago with these three young women, it hurt our hearts then, and we vow to not let that happen again. And it’s still going on,” Judi Holowatyj said.

Lee has a message for all those facing the same fate she did.

“I want them to know that they are more stronger than what they think they are. And they can overcome a lot of things with hope,” Lee said.

Lee also made a plea to people to step up and say something if they witness abuse.

“If you see somebody abusing somebody, please come forward. Please step up. Don’t turn the other cheek. You might be saving a life, honey. God bless.”

At the end of the rally, Lee released her balloons into the air in honor of missing men, women and children.