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Community letter on ONS controversy: Councilman Jeff Ritterman

on April 5, 2012

Editor’s Note: The following is a letter submitted to by Councilman Jeff Ritterman. As a cooperative news organization and forum for community discourse, we welcome op-ed pieces and other reports and photos from residents, readers and public officials. The sentiments contained in this letter are solely those of the author.


Dear DeVone Boggan,

I am so sorry that you and the Office of Neighborhood Safety have been so relentlessly attacked. I am also sorry for not countering the abuse with greater showings of my support. So often you have been successful in obtaining outside funding only to have the items removed from our city council consent calendar, and you and ONS abused in the process. I was content to sit idly by and vote your items in and not think much about the hurt you and ONS must have felt.

I feel ashamed of that and I’m sorry.

I was saddened when ONS Agent Sam Vaughn mentioned that the disrespectful treatment that you and ONS received at city council cast a cloud over the South Africa trip. The city should have sent you all off with a parade. What an amazing accomplishment! After only a few short years, you were chosen to attend an international conference. Rather than accept the invitation and go alone, you went a huge step further and raised the funds for ONS staff Sam, Kevin, and Tammi and for ONS Fellows Rasheed, Shawn and Rohnell to go with you. Both Sam and Kevin told me it changed their lives.

I was touched and impressed by the huge outpouring of love you received from “the ONS family” at the last two city council meetings. It was so great to see Rasheed at the podium addressing the council and the community. I knew you had something special going for you when Rasheed told me that he didn’t retaliate because he knew it would disappoint you. “What would Devone think?” You had done the one thing that predicts success. You had made a caring, trusting relationship with him. He knows in his heart that you care what happens to him. That’s where the magic happens, in our hearts.

I now also understand that the attacks on you hurt all those in the “ONS family”. They are all people who have known disappointment and disrespect. They are so proud of what you all have accomplished. I’m sorry they too have not been protected from these attacks.

I don’t believe there is a silver lining here, but I do believe that life is full of lessons. We are seeing two contrasting ways of humans relating to one another. You and the ONS family embody the partnership way of relating. You show empathy, respect, kindness even love. The other paradigm values domination and ruling autocratically, top down by fear and ultimately violence.

You and ONS are so much modeling the path we want everyone to choose. I know it’s natural to want to strike back when you feel attacked. I so much admire you and ONS for taking the high ground and hope you can rise above the hurt and continue to do so.

Thank you for the amazing work you have done for our city. I’m so sorry that you haven’t received the praise and appreciation you deserve. I hope that will change immediately.

In partnership and with appreciation and respect,
Jeff Ritterman, M.D.
Richmond City Council


  1. Carole Johnson on April 10, 2012 at 5:29 pm

    What a great letter from City Councilman Ritterman. I also support Devone Boggan and the ONS staff wholeheartedly. I have faith that you will all stay strong and committed to weathering the storm, in order to keep up the great work in the community.

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