Pain into passion: Residents in Petersburg call for an end to violence

Residents in Petersburg call for an end to violence
Updated: Sep. 8, 2018 at 8:28 PM EDT
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PETERSBURG, VA (WWBT) - Many people remember Dinwiddie High School Cheerleader KeAsia Adkins. She went missing from her home and was found days later dead in the woods. Police say her cousin is responsible for her death.

It was that tragedy that inspired a "Stop the Violence" event on Saturday.

Many say they refuse to let her death go in vain.

"I went through the process with the Adkins family. I looked at the young man that (is suspect of) the crime and it was heart wrenching to know mental illness might have played a part," said organizer Belinda Baugh.

Deciding to turn her pain into a mission, Baugh says it's time to stop the violence in the community.

Offering music, food and fellowship, the community event was a day of fun and unity and aimed to unite the region.

"Colonial Heights is our next door neighbor, Hopewell is our next door neighbor, Dinwiddie is our next door neighbor. These are the people we shop with." Baugh said.

"When you have a city that's downtrodden and the people are perishing, you try to help them and give them some incentives to let them know you are worthy people care about you," audio engineer Leon Batts said.

Batts donated his time to make sure the audio was just right for the event and says events like these are so important.

"It's very important that people understand that we are setting a precedence that violence is not tolerated in the city of Petersburg," said City Councilman W. Howard Myers.

From City Council to the police chief to first responders, everyone came out showing the community they care.

Mayor of Petersburg Samuel Parham says the crime in his city is getting out of control.

"We have to get to a place where we can sit down and discuss this problem and not turn to violence," Parham said.

As over 500 pieces of chicken cooked on the grill thanks to Divine Flavors, and people go free health screenings from medical professionals, Parham says this is the city he loves.

"This is the essence of what Petersburg really is" Parham said.

City leaders say a similar event will be held from noon to 4 p.m. Sept. 22.

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