North Richmond church grapples with recent killings

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Linetta Cooper said she can no longer live in North Richmond, a place she’s called home for 54 years. “You’ve got people riding around with guns,” Cooper said. “I’m ready to move.”

Her remarks came during Sunday service on Sept. 29 at North Richmond’s New Hope Missionary Baptist Church following a recent spate of violence in the neighborhood.

Two days earlier, 30-year-old Rylando Matlock was shot multiple times late at night on Silver Avenue, according to the Contra Costa Coroner’s Office.  He died of his injuries Friday morning. Later Friday afternoon, 20-year-old Antonio Tavares Solomon Jr. was shot and killed blocks away from where Matlock was slain, according to the Contra Costa Coroner’s Office.

Last week’s homicides were the first in North Richmond this year, and they broke a relatively peaceful spell for the small unincorporated community. Between 2005 and 2010, the 1.5-square-mile neighborhood averaged nearly five homicides a year, according to previous reporting by Richmond Confidential.

Cooper, along with about 30 other members of the New Hope Missionary Baptist Church of North Richmond, gathered Sunday morning and reflected on the two killings.

Cooper, who lives in public housing in North Richmond, said she is going to apply for a transfer to housing in Brentwood. “I haven’t even been [to Brentwood], I just know they haven’t had any violence there,” Cooper said. “I want to be able to see my grandbabies run around and play, I don’t want to bury them to violence…I’ve buried too many friends already.”

Matlock’s mother attended the service. As parishioners discussed how to prevent future violence, her sobs reverberated throughout the building.

New Hope Missionary Baptist Church participates in the violence-prevention group Ceasefire, which is a partnership between clergy, police and community members. Ceasefire targets people at-risk of committing violent crimes and offers them referrals to services, such as job training and counseling.

“We’re doing everything we can as a church, we march, we protest, and they’re still killing each other left and right,” said North Richmond resident and Ceasefire activist Valerie Duncan.

Throughout her youth, Duncan said she had a similar lifestyle as those she’s now reaching out to. “I’ve ran the streets, I’ve carried pistols, I’ve ducked lead and bullet fire, sold dope, I’ve done all of that,” she said.

Duncan’s history allows her to connect to those she’s reaching out to, she said. Still, the recent killings underscore how hard it is to curb violence in North Richmond. “I’m tired of going to funerals. I’m tired of talking to morticians to see if they can fix our loved ones’ bodies up enough for the viewing,” Duncan said, as her voice cracked and tears welled in her eyes.

During Sunday’s service, members of the church discussed ways to prevent future blood shed. Juana Thomas has lived in North Richmond her entire life. She blamed the lack of services in the neighborhood for the violence.

“The children are misguided, scared, depressed, anxious, because they don’t know what their future holds,” Thomas said. “If we give them something to look forward to, they may feel like they have something to live for besides the streets.”

Thomas added that in recent years, the city of Richmond has invested heavily in community programs. Unfortunately, violent feuds have made some North Richmond residents wary of seeking services in Richmond proper.

“I have family that lives in central Richmond,” including five children who are now adults, “and they don’t even want to come here to go to church with me,” Thomas said. “It didn’t used to be like that. I grew up in central Richmond, was raised in a church in North Richmond, and went to school on the south-side, and I could go anywhere without worrying.”

The service closed with a prayer by Rev. Stephen Katzenberger, who called for peace in the neighborhood. “We don’t have to be stuck. We don’t have to hide in the shadows. We can come forth into the true light,” the reverend said during the sermon. “We may have things in us that aren’t right yet, because we’re human. But like a banana, you can peel away the peel and we’re good inside.”

5 Comments

  1. KEEPINITREAL

    Let’s See ….one of these men didnt make the best desicion in life so im not superised by his death …not that its ok…but in reality if your doing wrong how are you expecting right to happend,Richmond is messed up all around.Half of these “parents” are out running the streets just like there childeren as well as doing drugs and not parenting their childeren THATS Y THEY ARE THE WAY THEY ARE because alot of you UNENDUCATED PARENTS. Why is it that the teens in “North Richmond” need some support with their futures when they’re the ones messing it up for there selves. They run in gangs and kill/rob for what ever (even there own people) It seems that everytime something happends out there its a major topic but what about these young people in the other areas of richmond getting killed the same way let alone by these same boys in north richmond and lets not forget NORTH RICHMOND is a rival gang…..so it doesnt take a rocket scientist to figure it out who is doing what. Statistics: How many people have gotten killed/shot in central and southside richmond this year???…. 10-14….how many in North rich????……2…..and these are rival gangs UGH DUH ITS OVIBIOUS WHO IS DOING WHAT LET ALONE WHO IS STARTING ALL THIS NON SENSE….THE FIRST KILLING THIS YEAR WAS IN CENTRAL RICHMOND……lets not forget they will gun you down broad daylight, on bikes and feet…they walk down the streets of an area they’re arent from and first person they see in THEIR DUMB eyes to be a rival member THEY WILL SHOOT!!!! You can be from hong kong china but if your in an area they dont get along with THEY WILL SHOOT…..It’s sad…. Also RPD always think they’re doing something but when they do undercover stuff as far as, set ups/raids/wire taps THEY NEVER SEEM TO DO IT IN NORTH RICHMOND ive always read articles about the other areas in richmond they arrested people but yet never there. WHAT I CAN SAY THE HOMICIDE RATE DID GO DOWN VS. LAST YEAR but i think it’ll only get better WHEN RPD TREATS ALL THE VIOLENCE AREAS THE SAME…seriously what good is it to leave the people in north rich to do their crimes in all these other areas when they should be locked up with the rest. look on that other article that wast posted about Lincoln plair ….THREE YOUNG NORTH RICHMOND BOYS DID THAT AND THE YOUNG BOY THEY KILLED WASNT EVEN INTO THE THINGS THEY WERE HE WANTED TO MAKE A CHANGE BUT THESE IGNORANT BOYS CHANGE THAT ON THEIR OWN FOR THE WORSE. killing for no reason (stripes, thinking its cool)

    REAP WHAT YOU SOW
    no one should die this way but if you live by a gun more than likely you will die by one…….
    What goes around comes around! THATS WHY THESE YOUNG PEOPLE NEED TO OPEN THERE BLIND EYES AND SEE WHAT LIFE IS REALLY ABOUT!!! MIND YOU THESE ARE TEENS TO GROWN PEOPLE

    EVERYONE KNOWS RIGHT FROM WRONG ITS THE CHOICES THEY DECIDE TO MAKE, CONSEQUENCES COMES WITH IT!!!

    • NatashaRenee Ph.D

      First off thank you for your “interest and background” about North Richmond. It’s seems that either you’re a resident of North Richmond or a frequent visitor. I want to address your comments in regards to the young men that lost their lives last month. I think that it is unfair for you to say one of them made the wrong choice, however it is unfortunate that both young men had to die. I’ve been a resident of North Richmond for 37 years, I am educated with 2 Master degrees in Education adn will soon have a PH.D on Urdan Studies. (So sit back while I read you!) I will admit things have changed. I want to correct you about the statics of North Richmond. North Richmond is much more than Projects (Public Housing), Murder and Drugs. I agree that the unincorporated part of Richmond should have more resources, however myself and others are dedicated to servicing and resourcing the community of North Richmond. Your perception of the people is OFF. Unless you’re an active gang member or a informant it is wrong of you to say that residents of North Richmond walk/ride bicycles and preform drive byes.. Its actually kinda of funny. As a spectator looking in and not looking to help I can understand what you may be feeling. From reading your comment and looking at your GRAMMAR its seems that you yourself maybe uneducated, a person of color and is most likely living in the same situation as your emotions are so connected. Its a shame that you would need to get online and voice your frustrations instead of joining a city of Richmond meeting that by the way is held every month. If you have so much information about murders that have happened
      it would be wise to take your ass to the POLICE because you sound like a under cover North Richmond visitor that is working with the cops!! Live it and die by it??? Oh yes that’s for sure!! So what are you living by? Be about
      what you seem to be so passionate about!
      A final note for you KEEPINITREAL you didn’t keep shit real through your whole post.

  2. ahaha

    North Richmond is filled with devils!! There is no hope for the projects or roaches!!! They are just going to kill eachother while everyone else sits back watches and laughs!!!

    • NatashaRenee Ph.D

      Greetings ahaha,

      I can tell by your post you’re a kid, so I’ll go light on you. No hope for the Projects?? Maybe not.. But I bet you’re dying to visit!! Go pick up a book and learn how to spell and write and shut your silly ass up!
      Ahahaha!!

  3. NatashaRenee Ph.D

    Greetings KEEPINITREAL,

    First off thank you for your “interest and background” about North Richmond. It’s seems that either you’re a resident of North Richmond or a frequent visitor. I want to address your comments in regards to the young men that lost their lives last month. I think that it is unfair for you to say one of them made the wrong choice, however it is unfortunate that both young men had to die. I’ve been a resident of North Richmond for 37 years, I am educated with 2 Master degrees in Education adn will soon have a PH.D on Urdan Studies. (So sit back while I read you!) I will admit things have changed. I want to correct you about the statics of North Richmond. North Richmond is much more than Projects (Public Housing), Murder and Drugs. I agree that the unincorporated part of Richmond should have more resources, however myself and others are dedicated to servicing and resourcing the community of North Richmond. Your perception of the people is OFF. Unless you’re an active gang member or a informant it is wrong of you to say that residents of North Richmond walk/ride bicycles and preform drive byes.. Its actually kinda of funny. As a spectator looking in and not looking to help I can understand what you may be feeling. From reading your comment and looking at your GRAMMAR its seems that you yourself maybe uneducated, a person of color and is most likely living in the same situation as your emotions are so connected. Its a shame that you would need to get online and voice your frustrations instead of joining a city of Richmond meeting that by the way is held every month. If you have so much information about murders that have happened
    it would be wise to take your ass to the POLICE because you sound like a under cover North Richmond visitor that is working with the cops!! Live it and die by it??? Oh yes that’s for sure!! So what are you living by? Be about
    what you seem to be so passionate about!
    A final note for you KEEPINITREAL you didn’t keep shit real through your whole post.

Comments are closed.