Richmond residents take to the street, pass out fliers, to stop gun violence

Richmond Ceasefire/Lifelines to Healing volunteers walk down Second Street Friday evening passing out fliers about stopping gun violence. Some, like this BMW, just drove by slowly and grabbed a flier on their way by. (Photo by Tyler Orsburn)

Richmond Ceasefire/Lifelines to Healing volunteers walk down Second Street Friday evening passing out fliers about stopping gun violence. Some, like this BMW, just drove by slowly and grabbed a flier on their way by. (Photo by Tyler Orsburn)

On Friday evening, 13 Richmond residents gathered at New Hope Missionary Baptist Church in North Richmond to spread the word about life without bullets. Armed with purple fliers, they exited the small church with a gentle gait and marched two-by-two towards the Las Deltas Housing Project, one of the city’s hot spots for gun violence.

The purpose of the walk, also known as Richmond Ceasefire/Lifelines to Healing, was to meet people hanging out on their stoops and talk about the need to stop gun violence. Many times conversations were ended with an open-air hug and prayer. Organized by Contra Costa Interfaith Supporting Community Organization (CCISCO), community residents meet every Friday evening in a different part of the city and do a similar walk through the community.

Pastor Joan Thompson, of New Hope Missionary Baptist Church, left, gets a hug from a resident on Second Street as the group marched toward a housing project. “We’re here because we love them,” Thompson said. “Let us say the right words at the right time.” (Photo by Tyler Orsburn)

Pastor Joan Thompson of New Hope Missionary Baptist Church said her church has participated in the event eight times and will continue to do so because the march enhances love and concern for the community. “Hopefully it will let the neighborhood see that we are concerned, and that we’re not just sitting behind the pulpit and just talking about it,” she said. “We’re actually out in the streets showing them that we do care and we are concerned for them. Who knows, it may change somebody’s heart—it may change their outlook.”

Residents hanging out on the corner of Silver Avenue and North Jade Street didn’t run and hide once they saw the slow-moving group head their way. One teenage girl approached the group in the middle of the street and asked for hug. Another group of women hanging out in and around a SUV formed a small circle with Pastor Thompson and prayed.

Hector Jauregui, right, talks to a Richmond resident about the importance of Latinos and African Americans working together to end violence. (Photo by Tyler Orsburn)

It’s no walk in the park to meander through some of Richmond’s neighborhoods at sunset. But Tamisha Walker has been doing it with the group since October and said with every walk she feels less leery. “The fear has subsided,” she said. “I just realized there’s a lot of hurt people who just want people to show that they care.”

Dewanda Joseph has been marching for nearly one year, too. What she’s learned over that time is that the community is in need of more community. “I envision one day I’ll come out here to do this and everybody in the neighborhood will be out here with me,” she said.

North Richmond resident Alfonzo Rodgers who was part of the procession said back in the day when a stranger came through the neighborhood, people would run inside and turn off the lights. “This was my first time marching and I was looking for people to just go under,” he said. “A couple of times on Second Street and then on North Jade Street they waited for us. That made an impact on me, just seeing what we can teach them.”

Richmond Ceasefire/Lifelines to Healing volunteers walk under a pair of hanging tennis shoes on Fifth Street. Sammy Luna, of Richmond’s Safe Return Project, said tennis shoes hanging from a wire can sometimes mean turf or gang boundaries. (Photo by Tyler Orsburn)

For Jonathan Perez, 18, picturing life without street violence didn’t seem real. Before participating in these peace marches he used to raise havoc in the streets, he said; things got so bad for him that he was sent to jail twice. It wasn’t until he understood how his exploits broke his mother’s heart, and then seeing his older brother sent to jail on attempted murder charges, that he decided to invest in himself and change, he said. Now a member of CCISCO’s Safe Return Project, Perez works on Richmond’s immigration and gun violence issues.

Perez said when he meets older people on the street he tells them to try and not shun youngsters. “Take them in,” he said. “Spread the word that people are out here and that we do care. It’s not worth killing each other.”

For more information on how to get involved, contact Rev. Eugene Jackson and CCISCO at (510) 593-8994

4 Comments

  1. Just my opinion and honesty. I’ts okay to walk the streets of North Richmond to give the community hope. However the up and growing people aren’t the one’s that are committing murders I’m not saying that all are innocent but I’m trying to get across that there’s a wide variety in the city of Richmond not Nort Richmond that are committing these offences. The majority that has gotten murdered out there in the last 10 years has been someone else coming into to the community committing these crimes (murders) and they’ve been innocent people that are just walking down the streets and don’t have anything to do with(fonking)meaning violence,gunfire etc…I’ts time for the citizens of Richmond and other churches/organization’s to take a stand and walk/collaborate/etc around the city of Richmond because just talking to the one’s that lives in the community isn’t going to work.If the city or North Richmond is submissive and open to the suggestion’s and actually not even living that life and want to change or have changed but there’s still people entering NORTH RICHMOND

  2. continued– and killing innocent people that they don’t know,never saw before, lil kids etc, people’s mothers,grandmothers.. the violence will never stop. I call these people serial killer’s! Maybe if they would start labeling them as such it might just stop some of the violence “just my opinion on that ” with that being said try to reach all the CRIME SPOTS in the city or Richmond to be able to be more successful of stopping the violence.

  3. Derrick Clark

    Dee Dee you raise a very valid point. I believe these young men and women are faced with an identity crisis. They don’t know who “they” are with respect their own family history. Parents who grew up together are sitting on opposite sides of the courtroom in support of the children who couldn’t manage to work out their differences. There is no real answer. We as PARENTS can only press forward until we find a working solution. Until then…continue to pray.

  4. Gene

    I have no problem walking, jogging, and biking many of Richmond’s neighborhoods, but North Richmond is not a part of Richmond. Never has been and never will be. It’s an unincorporated part of Contra Costa County. Since the lawless little enclave of North Richmond does not want to be annexed by the City of Richmond, and I’m not sure many residents would want to annex it, it’s really just incredible how often crimes committed there are attributed to Richmond. North Richmond is surrounded by the Cities of San Pablo and Richmond yet all the crimes committed in North Richmond become our problem. I just don’t get why crime there is Richmond’s problem. It’s a county problem. Specifically it’s a West Contra Costa County.

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