Protesters gather at City Hall to demand action against weapons in Richmond

RICHMOND, Va (WRIC) – members Richmonders involved in strengthening our communities The organization (RISC) went to the mayor’s office on Friday, calling on the mayor’s office to take action against gun violence.

It has been two years since RISC met with Mayor Levar Stoney to discuss strategies to combat gun use in the city. Since then, RISC claims that 155 people were killed in a shooting in Richmond, and the city had its the hardest year since 2005.

The mayor’s office, according to RISK, recently refused to meet with them for the next round of discussions.

The march began around 10:30 a.m., and although their initial plan for meetings of heads of organizations with the mayor did not materialize, they gathered on the street to read the names of victims of gun violence.

Rabbi Mike Knopp was one of many religious leaders who attended the rally.

“We refuse to ignore us,” Knopf said. “Families of the dead, mothers who had to bury their children, refuse to ignore.”

This criticism comes weeks after Mayor Stony announced a new one The $ 500,000 Arms Redemption Program in Richmond.

“Weapons redemption programs are politically popular, but ultimately ineffective,” said RISC co-president Pastor Don Coleman. “Especially if your measure is to stop street violence.”

Coleman advocated the implementation of the “Group Violence Intervention” (GVI) program.

“GVI is a truly proven fact-based program that has been implemented in several cities to halve the number of homicides,” Coleman said. GVI is better known as a ceasefire in some cities and was a method originally introduced in Boston in the 1990s.

Pastor Ralph Hodge reflected on the death of classmate Jonathan Contreras.

“Hearing his name today, my heart is still broken,” Hodge said. “He was a young man, he was an adult, but he had some struggles. And someone shot him in the GRTC bus. “

Mayor Stoney wrote an open letter to RISC leaders in which he said that his heart breaks every time someone in the city gets lost due to gun violence, he does what he thinks is best for Richmond and what measures he takes city ​​leadership, supported by evidence and guidance from experts and community members.

“If RISC is really serious about preventing gun violence, they will focus their energy on work
with us in the community, not against us, and abandon the erroneous and shameful strategy
trying to use victims of gun violence as pawns to advance their position by bullying and intimidating government officials if they don’t get what they want, ”Stowney’s letter said.

“I refuse to cooperate with you on these terms. These efforts do not bear fruit and do not bring us closer to our common goal – a safer city. “

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