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Mourning lives lost in Richmond, 2011

on December 3, 2011

A candle flickered atop a small table as Mayor Gayle McLaughlin recited 25 names.

Each one belonged to a person killed in Richmond in this year.

“Eventually,” McLaughlin said moments later, “we can have a zero homicide rate in Richmond.”

Friday’s ceremony to remember the victims of homicide in Richmond has become an annual exercise, as McLaughlin uses her monthly meet-the-mayor meetings every December as a solemn occasion to reflect on the lives lost to violence in the city.

About 20 people sat in a circle in a room adjacent to the city’s main library for the ceremony. Unlike in past years, none of the attendees was a family member of one of the year’s victims.

“This should have been an auditorium, full of people here for those that lost their lives,” said Diane Gatewood, who works in the city’s Office of Neighborhood Safety.

But there was cause for hope during the somber gathering. Homicide rates remain down from previous years, a fact McLaughlin and others said was evidence of the effectiveness of public and private anti-violence initiatives.

Deadly violence has plagued Richmond for much of its post-WWII history. During the 10-year period between 2000-2009, at least 335 people were killed in Richmond violence according to police records, an average of 33.5 homicides per year.

Last year the city recorded 21 homicides, the lowest figure since 2001, when 18 were killed.

But this year’s relatively low total comes with caveats. The figure subtracts the violent deaths of two other men, Corey Walker Jr., 28, and Dante Deloney, 19, who were killed during the July 9 homicide of Michael Anderson, 36. All three died in a drug-related gunfight in the city’s housing projects at Triangle Court. Lt. Bisa French said earlier this year that the city, with the approval of federal oversight agencies, had subtracted the two homicides from its total because they occurred in self-defense.

Also not included in the homicide total are five killings, all in drive-by shootings, in North Richmond. a one-mile square neighborhood within the city of Richmond but considered an unincorporated part of Contra Costa County. Several attendees noted that the bloodshed disproportionately impacts a few neighborhoods in the Iron Triangle, south Richmond and North Richmond.

Since 2000. 381 people have been the victims of homicide in the city.

Among those on hand Friday were City Councilmember Jovanka Beckles and Jeff Ritterman.

Beckles said engaged residents are key to reducing violence.

“We have to be able to have the courage,” Beckles said. “When we see something wrong, we can’t be afraid to speak up about it.”



List of those killed in homicides in Richmond in 2011

  • Gene Grisby, 16
  • Mario Hollister, 26
  • Jonathan Fontenot, 18
  • Jose Flores, 21
  • Andrew Manriquez, 19
  • Frederick Maye, 24
  • Reginald Preston II, 30
  • Anthony Greenwood, 51
  • Richard Lovato, 50
  • Derrick Aikens, 27
  • Marvin Dyson Jr., 25
  • Leslie Howard Jr., 31
  • Rashad Bailey, 19
  • Darrell Duncan, 26
  • Michael Anderson, 36
  • Melanie Williams, 37
  • Vashone Lee, 37
  • Darryl Russell, 20
  • Alejandro Avila, 20
  • Rose McFadden, 25
  • Antoine Williams, 24
  • Vincent Stephenson Jr., 18
  • Elvis Escobar, 17
  • Sushilawati Prasad, 67
  • Jensy Romero, 30

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