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Community to hold series of events against local violence

on February 26, 2010

Since Jan. 1 2009, 54 homicides have been recorded in the city of Richmond.

But it was a non-deadly outburst of violence earlier this month, inside the walls of a local church during prayer services, that prompted local religious and civil leaders to coalesce behind action.

“We’ve been feeling our young people’s pain on the streets of this city,” said Rev. Andre Schumake, president of the Richmond Improvement Association. “And now we’re having a spiritual explosion.”

On Feb. 14, three gunmen walked into New Gethsemane Church of God in Christ, sought out targets, and opened fire, according to police. A 14-year-old boy and a 19-year-old man were wounded.

The brazen act drew national media attention and the focus of the local community. Now, religious and civic leaders are set to embark upon a two-week schedule of public outreach, mass prayer, rallies and symposiums in opposition to violence.

The City Council on Tuesday unanimously adopted an emergency measure freeing up to $10,000 to provide fliers and logistical support for the actions.

The events begin Saturday, with a 9 a.m. prayer breakfast at DeJean Middle School, followed by leaders and volunteers dispersing throughout the city’s Iron Triangle neighborhoods. Schumake said he expects 500 people to knock on 3,000 doors Saturday, where they will pass out anti-violence and community resource literature and converse with residents about their concerns.

“I believe that God is using Richmond as our proving ground where men of faith can come together across denominational lines,” Schumake said. More than 80 local churches will be involved in the upcoming events, Schumake said.

The remainder of the schedule includes:

– More door-to-door work on Sunday.

– Simultaneous prayer circles on 210 street corners at 11 a.m on March 6.

– A mass rally at noon on March 6 at New Gethsemane Church.

– A health, education and employment fair at the Civic Center also on March 6, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

At Tuesday’s council meeting, public support was not unanimous. Jerome Smith, a Roman Catholic chaplain, objected to city government support.

“Let the secular be secular, and let the faith-based be faith-based,” he said.

But the Council and other religious leaders were not persuaded.

“This is where we’re drawing the line,” said Councilwoman Maria Viramontes.

Councilman Nat Bates, the lone black member of the council, said the diverse city was united in its concern over ongoing violence.

“This is not just an African-American problem,” Bates said. “This extends throughout the city.”

Of the 47 homicides recorded in Richmond in 2009, 34 were black and 13 were Latino, according to police records.


  1. B. Cayenne Bird on February 26, 2010 at 1:42 pm

    Everyone take 20 voter registration forms with you so we can elect the right people to office in the first place. We need smart on crime politicians focused on the prevention of mental illness, substance abuses, poverty and to end the forced parole back into the same communities where they were arrested. Let’s give feet to our prayers and back up Rev. Shumake who knows the problems. Full mobilization is needed.

  2. Norma J F Harrison on February 26, 2010 at 8:53 pm

    Hello. I’ll be going around god directly to us, the people. People are totally denigrated in our society. Today when I was distributing leaflets like the one attached, at Richmond High School, some of their workers chased me away – TELLING ME THAT IN FRONT OF AN ENTRANCE WAS PRIVATE PROPERTY!!! People imbued with their/our oppression do this. People who accept our role on the plantation enslaved as wage slaves, do this. People ignorant of workers’ relation to our Owners do this. And only we, workers, people we see, and with whom we can talk, about life on the ground here, every day, can liberate us.
    Come walk with us to fight the actual causes of our street crime. We learn to hate and distrust each other because it seems we’re all squabbling over the same piece of pie. In reality what’s happened is that the crime in the boardrooms – which goes unpunished, the deep, brutal vicious crime of capitalism – creates our criminal behavior on the ground.
    One factor is that our work is not rewarded. We work; our Owners get rich. Sometimes it dribbles down to a few of us – who’ve manage to stake a successful claim to a tiny piece of that pie. Most people, including unemployed, imprisoned, old, youth, ill, disabled are barely if at all cared for in this society. Some people, feeling this horror use crime as a response. AND with the establishment of ‘punishment’ as a major source of revenue – for public as well as private businesses – more and more behavior is being called criminal, and more and more incarceration – totally NOT rehabilitative – is being imposed on us.
    As we know, imprisonment is a form of torture; illness, poor care, rape, work for pennies a day, immobility within the confines, all contribute to driving people to brutality and degrees of insanity; definitely not to self- and community help.
    You know all these. Trying to rehabilitate people in our community in these abusive, deprived circumstances, by praying, marching, chanting – you know those deflect us from the work we need to do. Even ‘jobs’ offer only slight relief.
    Ask yourself and your neighbors what a good life is – see if you can figure it out – how can we live well together? – what comprises good living?… Dream the best dreams. That’s how we know how to struggle.
    And don’t be afraid of being told – that’s socialist! communist! That’s what the schools teach us, the media teach us, our communities teach us – to be afraid of working for mutual care – by and for all of us. Yes! they’re communist and socialist – that’s why our Owners have to teach us those’re to be feared and hated.
    Let’s walk together tomorrow to say we deserve to give us all all that care we so well deserve – health, housing, food, education. These all must be claimed by us all for us all. Within this action is provision to us of recreation, vacations, good jobs – work that makes sense, in pleasant working conditions with super good pay. No reason we shouldn’t live like The Rich: secure – unto our children’s children; with plenty of what we need and like; in gentle care of Earth – which is not part of The Rich’s living at all. In fact, theirs is the opposite! The Rich rape Earth – USING OUR LABOR to do it.
    And you KNOW that whether or not people have a job, the unemployed people contribute to The Rich’s theft. Unemployed people frighten us to accept lowered wages, crushing of unions, reduced and ended benefits, loss of pensions and abusive working conditions all around.
    Walk with us tomorrow.
    Meet us at Nystrom at 11:00 a.m. to walk through the neighborhood and talk with our neighbors, about these matters and about the ALL OUT call, the March 4 strike day – against these losses – losses of funds for schools, for one. A decent society would be all of us able to enjoy free education all our lives, just for starters. And I’m not talking about getting a degree so you MIGHT get a good job. I’m talking about …. well – I’ll tell you about it tomorrow – it’s a kind of long story – what we deserve … the whole pie.
    Norma 510-527-9584
    From: Rob…> Sent: Fri, February 26, 2010 9:49:15 AM Subject: Major rallies in Richmond saturday/ article and photos
    Robert Rogers UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism c: 714.469.9267

  3. […] impetus for the anti-violence campaign, which culminates March 6 with an afternoon community fair at the Civic Center, was the Feb. 14 shooting at New Gethsemane […]

  4. Brian Hogan on February 28, 2010 at 6:52 pm

    Hi Robert. Richmond Confidential is a fantastic resource for the community. Thank you for your continued reporting. I wanted to point your attention to some other work that is happening in West Contra Costa right now in reaction to the carceral management of poverty, e.g.,

  5. […] than 200 women, and a handful of children and men, gathered at Dejean Middle School Saturday to celebrate their progress – and their […]

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