'Not places of violence’: Community takes on vandalism, violence near MLK Middle

NAACP town hall on gun violence

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - The NAACP hosted a town hall to address safety concerns in Richmond Wednesday night.

The meeting comes after someone caused nearly $47,000 worth of damage at the middle school, shooting out several windows with a BB gun.

The school property has been vandalized 10 other times since March.

The uptick in violence and vandalism brought a crowd together at the middle school for a town Hall titled ‘What About the Children?’ to discuss ways to stop it from happening again.

Dozens gather to attend town hall to discuss ways to stop vandalism and violence in the city
Dozens gather to attend town hall to discuss ways to stop vandalism and violence in the city

Michelle Clayborne is a Chesterfield resident, but attended the meeting because she grew up near the middle school. Clayborne said she never wants to see this kind of destruction on school property again.

“These are places of learning, not places of violence,” said Clayborne. “This is a beautiful school and I think we should all try to take care of it.”

Dozens gather to attend town hall to discuss ways to stop vandalism and violence in the city.
Dozens gather to attend town hall to discuss ways to stop vandalism and violence in the city. (Source: A.J. Nwoko)

Richmond Police Chief William Smith said the youth responsible for last week’s broken windows had been identified, but in lieu of getting punished through the court system, they will be will be disciplined through “The Life Program.” The nine-week program targets at-risk young people, ages 13-19, who have been involved in potentially criminal acts that could lead to their arrest.

“We think we can be more successful in the long term in addressing issues through preventive intervention strategies and educational services rather than immediate punishment,” said Chief Smith. “We’re looking at things that are creative ways about how we address problems that we see.”

During the two-hour town hall, the community offered suggestions to city leaders, including Richmond Public Schools Superintendent Jason Kamras and representatives with the NAACP about the best way to serve the needs of the children in the City.

“We need more resources in school. We need more mentoring,” said Chapter President James Minor.

Minor said an action plan is being established to tackle these issues on school grounds and on the streets. Components of what they would like to see in the action plan were discussed during the town hall.

“We’re going to do some pop-up tours and go to some communities with the health department with resources to help folks in communities and to see what the needs are,” said Minor.

“Our children are the future and with them being the future we definitely need to focus on them,” said Clayborne.

Minor said that more town halls will be announced in the future which will finalize the action plan.

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