Group demands face-to-face meeting with Richmond Mayor over gun violence
RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Richmonders Involved to Strengthen Our Communities is demanding a face-to-face meeting about recent gun violence with Mayor Levar Stoney.
Friday morning, about 100 members of the group took their message straight to City Hall.
“We’ve been trying to get him to do his job to end the scourge of gun violence in the city for the past two years, and he hasn’t done his job,” said Rabbi Michael Knopf, Temple Beth-El.
Members of RISC, a collection of 22 congregations, want the mayor and police chief to adopt a “Group Violence Intervention” strategy to curb gunfire, and that begins with a study of gun violence. They say the current methods to stop gun violence in the city aren’t working.
“A small number of identifiable street groups drive the violence, and the people in them face extraordinary risk and trauma,” said Pastor Don Hodge, Second Baptist Church Southside.
The city recently announced its hiring violence interrupters, who will serve as mediators between potentially violent groups. Last year, the city also declared gun violence a public health crisis.
RISC organizers say they tried to meet with the mayor 11 times, so they just showed up.
“I’ve dealt with violence, prostitution, drugs. Solutions work. Problems have to have a solution. If you’re not going to use the solution, Mayor Stoney’s not using the solution,” said Shabazz Mohammad, REAL LIFE Richmond.
A small group of members did make their way into City Hall but got no meeting.
They were confined to the first floor, where they held a vigil and read the names of the 154 people who have been killed in Richmond over the last two years.
“We are not going anywhere. We are not going away. The mayor can run and hide. The mayor can refuse to meet with us. The mayor can refuse to respond. We are not going anywhere. We are going to continue to press forward,” said Rabbi Knopf.
Mayor Stoney fired back by calling Friday’s tactics shameful, and he says the group is using gun violence victims as pawns.
In a letter to the group, he responded, saying in part, “I refuse to engage with you on these terms.”
The group wants the mayor to attend an action meeting on April 5. So far, no word on if the mayor would attend.
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