The group gathers in a circle in the Public Library for the "Meet the Mayor" event

Mayor honors memory of homicide victims

on December 3, 2012

Mayor Gayle McLaughlin invited the community to the Richmond Public Library Friday night to honor the memory of this year’s homicide victims.

More than 30 people attended the event. Chairs formed a circle providing a public forum for the mayor and the attendees who had stories to share about the year’s 18 homicides.

“It’s people owning the neighborhood together,” McLaughlin said on ways to decrease crime and violence in the community. She focused on communities taking personal responsibility, being more involved in anti-crime organizations, and actively moving toward decreasing stress in the city’s environment.

“It’s time that Richmond steps up,” said Richmond resident Corvell Hindler. Hindler said more focus should be on trying to monitor Richmond’s youth and steer them toward nonviolence.

“The way I grew up you couldn’t carry a gun around at 16 or 17,” said Sean Chavers, a reporter with the Richmond Pulse.

An emotional part of the evening came when Marina Brown said to the room that the Richmond Police Department should be more sympathetic to the feelings of homicide victims’ families. Brown brought her cousin Barbara Brown whose grandson, Armon Brown Jr., was killed on Thanksgiving. Marina Brown said her brother was traumatized after witnessing her grandson’s dead body, and became inconsolable. Marina Brown says RPD police officers responded by assaulting her brother and placing him in jail, and not releasing him until the following day.

Richmond Police Captain Mark Gagan apologized across the forum’s circle to the Browns and spoke with the two women afterward.

“There’s too much of this in Richmond,” Barbara Brown said, on the numbers of violent crime in the city.

Another topic frequently brought up during the event was the impact stress had on the surrounding community and its influence on the number of homicides each year.

Valerie Yerger, a naturopathic doctor, said dealing with stress in a youth’s environment should be the first issue addressed to stop violence.

“There is so much that we should deal with,” Yerger said, “but we have to feel comfortable and safe first.”

ONS Director DeVone Boggan and Richmond Progressive Alliance members also attended the meeting.

McLaughlin also announced plans for a program called “Richmond Trust Project,” in which a group of men from San Quentin will come to Richmond and offer support groups, conflict resolution and self-esteem exercises.

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