Mayor: zero tolerance policy in the Bottom

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – Mayor Dwight Jones said enough is enough. He spoke those strong words during a surprise appearance at a vigil for a man killed in Shockoe Bottom this weekend.  A couple hundred people gathered to remember 20-year-old Justin Morgan, who was gunned down early Saturday morning steps from the site of Wednesday night's vigil.

It is rare to see high ranking officials like the mayor and city council vice president in attendance at events like this. But Mayor Jones told the crowd gathered he had a message: from now on, there will be a zero tolerance policy for violence in the Bottom.

20-year-old Justin Morgan is the latest in a long line of young men whose lives have been taken by street violence. Wednesday night, Mayor Dwight Jones told Morgan's family, friends and the perfect strangers gathered he's not going to take it anymore.

"We are establishing a zero tolerance for it and we want you to know that if you jaywalk, if you break a law, if you have a gun, you don't want to be down here because you're going to have an encounter with the Richmond city police," he said.

We asked police Chief Bryan Norwood, whose officers and detectives attended the vigil, exactly what that means. What does this zero tolerance policy change for the department and what will Richmonders who come down there on a Friday or Saturday night see?

"Some of the tactics that we use will be different," he explained. "You'll see some covert or you may not see some covert activities. We will change a little bit so we can adjust to the temperature that we have now."

Jones said there's more to be done on the city's side including working with the Virginia ABC board, tightening the nightclub ordinance and making sure young people have safe places to go and things to do. He was preaching to that population Wednesday night. One friend of Justin's hopes the message sinks in.

"This is our city," said Tyrone Edmonds. "We have to be tired of it. The mayor can't be tired for us. Alicia Rasin can't be tired for us. We have to be tired of it. We have to take a stand on this.  At the end of the day, we are the future."

Jones also spoke specifically to those friends warning them against retaliation.

The weekend and those new measures are only a couple days away. Only time will tell if they can change the current situation there.

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