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Unity event hopes to end gun violence: ‘Turn anger into love’ | #schoolsaftey


RICHMOND, Va. — The Richmond community has been rocked by gun violence recently, still reeling from a mass shooting that happened outside the Altria Theater earlier this month.

Now that students are out of school for the summer, nonprofit organizers and law enforcement agencies are urging parents help put a stop to gun violence among Richmond’s youth.

Viewpoint Services held its second annual Unity in the Community event at Westover Hills Elementary Saturday, partnering with several other nonprofits offering counseling services, health care services, and free food and toys for children in attendance.

WTVR

At the event, Mark Whitfield Sr. was honored for his work honoring the legacy of his daughter, Markiya Dickson.

Whitfield Sr. and Dickson were at Fonticello park together when gunshots rang out. Dickson was shot and killed.

Whitfield Sr. was able to get a playground dedicated in her honor, choosing to not retaliate after losing his child.

Mark Whitfield Sr.

WTVR

Mark Whitfield Sr.

“The day after I lost my baby, I sat on the porch and I looked up at the sky and everything, just beside me, went away. I had tunnel vision,” Whitfield Sr. said. “I was like, I gotta do something different. It’s easy to go out there, and get got. But where does that put me at? That puts me in jail away from my other kids.”

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Richmond City Council member Stephanie Lynch said the city invested $20 million in funding for summer and after school programs, what she called a historic high. Such programs have been supported to help keep kids active and engaged educationally when they’re not in the classroom.

“We need funding to go to our after school programming. We need funding to go to our summer programming. Because it’s not free. No, it’s not. It comes at a cost,” Lynch said. “And it should be accessible and in reach to all of our communities as we can make it. That’s our promise to our youth, that’s our promise to our families, that is our promise to the city.”

Stephanie Lynch

WTVR

Stephanie Lynch

The joy of families united was a sign of hope for Rakim King, a rising junior at Huguenot High School who was at the graduation ceremony, when gun shots rang out. King said thankfully, he was inside the building when it happened.

“It’s sad, that they had to go through that at their graduation. I’m sad for their families and everything. I hope everything gets better,” King said.

“I’m just glad this is going on right now. For the kids to be safe, to go the positive way. Go to school. Graduate school. Go to college. Get a degree and do something with their life. Make a career with their life,” he said.

Rakim King

WTVR

Rakim King

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Richmond’s Acting Police Chief Rick Edwards was also in attendance, saying the investigation into the graduation shooting is ongoing.

He said despite staffing shortages, RPD is planning on partnering with the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), Alcohol Tobacco and Firearm (ATF), US Marshals Service and Virginia State Police for Operation Safe Summer.

Those agencies will have extra teams patrolling Richmond streets throughout the summer.

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WTVR.COM IN-DEPTH: Stop the Violence





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