Richmond leaders discuss efforts to curb gun violence
Mayor Levar Stoney to gun owners: “I beg you to lock up your weapon. Lock up your gun.”
RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Inside Richmond City Hall on Tuesday, Mayor Levar Stoney and several others wore orange ahead of “Wear Orange” weekend, a nationwide effort drawing attention to gun violence awareness and education.
At the podium, Mayor Stoney said Richmond City Hall would be lit orange to reflect this.
One by one, speakers came up to the podium to talk about the effects of gun violence on their lives, including Kim DiJoseph, who said her mother was shot and killed during an armed robbery in 2012.
“One moment, one bullet, unfathomable ripples for generations,” said DiJoseph. “It ripples out into every moment, into every sphere of life from there.”
These discussions come ahead of the launch of Operation Safe Summer, a state and federal partnership to curb gun violence. In addition, city leaders also announced the start of a program called “Late Night Gym,” which will give 15 to 20-year-olds a safe space to do positive activities on Fridays and Saturdays.
At the podium, multiple speakers talked about the effects of gun violence on children.
“As a former Richmond Public School teacher, I witnessed the daily toll of gun violence in my classroom and in the lives of my students,” said Kristin DuMont, a Richmond representative for Moms Demand Action.
“The number of homicides in the city reached a 15-year high in 2021,” said Childsavers CEO L. Robert Bolling. “Both the victims and the suspects are getting younger and younger, and our children are feeling the effects of this violence more than ever.”
When asked about the status of violence interrupters, Mayor Stoney said they are in training.
“Violence interrupters have been hired,” he said. “They, I believe, they have already been in the HR process, and they’re in the training process now.”
In 2022, the initiative was announced with the goal to intervene in conflicts before shots rang out.
“As I’ve said about many, many of these efforts, they’re not the panacea,” said Mayor Stoney. “They’re not superheroes, but they will play a heroic role in ensuring we can resolve conflicts before they end up in further gun violence.”
Mayor Stoney also made a plea to gun owners.
“I beg you to lock up your weapon. Lock up your gun,” he said.
In addition, he also asked parents to stay involved in their child’s life and know what’s happening.
“A lot of our families are working hard every day. Some of our parents are working two jobs, but we still have to ask the questions about who they’re hanging out with and where they are,” he said.
Operation Safe Summer is set to start on June 10.
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