Unity in Community event aims to discourage violence, retaliations

The community event will run from 1 p.m. until 5 p.m. on Saturday, June 17.
Published: Jun. 15, 2023 at 1:14 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - With his son close to his heart, Jermaine Robertson is on a mission against gun violence.

“One of the hardest things I try to tell everybody, especially these kids, please know this is not a video game,” Robertson said. “There is no do-over. Once you pull that gun out, that means you mean to do bodily harm.”

Robertson’s 29-year-old son Brandon was gunned down last September, found shot to death inside a car in Chesterfield.

“He loved the kids,” Robertson said. “He loved doing anything for the community, and he loved DJing; that was his passion to DJ.”

Brandon will be honored at an event at Westover Hills Community Center on Saturday. It’s the second annual summer kick-off of Unity in the Community, where Brandon played last year. Organizers say they will provide kids with lots of fun things to do at the event.

“So we’re providing bicycles,” said Monica Lucas, Viewpoint Services co-chair. “We’re giving away bicycles. We’re giving away basketballs, soccer balls, hula hoops, all kinds of fun things for kids to play with for the summer.”

But, there will also be a serious message about discouraging community violence and retaliation as a means to resolve conflict.

That’s a running theme in many of the youth violence that Richmond Police investigate: one person wrongs another, quickly escalating into a series of retaliations.

“Like traditionally, kids have been excited about the summer, getting outside riding bicycles, playing basketball, doing all kinds of fun things, but here locally, with all the violence in our city, a lot of kids and parents are anxious about sending their kids outside to play,” Lucas said.

Organizers say they chose Westover Hills because of an October 2022 fatal shooting right outside the elementary school. They hope to address the trauma kids endured that day. A 17-year-old is behind bars, charged in connection.

The community event will run from 1 p.m. until 5 p.m. on Saturday, June 17. The event is free, and no registration is required.