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Robert Rogers

A Richmond council hopeful who dances to a different drum

Mike “Raccoon Eyes” Kinney is not a typical candidate for Richmond city council. He wears 17 medicine bags around his neck and a beret on his head. Ask the lifelong Richmond resident why he’s running for office for the first time, and expect an impassioned soliloquy, with pitched intonations and kinetic gestures that cut through the cigarette smoke. Kinney, 58, has a cup of coffee in one hand and a filter cigarette in the other, but neither calms his restless…

Orlando Lamar Yancy laid to rest at Hilltop Church

Orlando Lamar Yancy made people smile. His friends and family told stories of how Yancy, known in his North Richmond neighborhood as “Rusty” or “Bucket,” would crack jokes on the basketball court—and just about anywhere else. But that all ended on May 14, when Yancy, 22, was shot multiple times as he walked in front of the Senior Center at the corner of Fifth Street and Silver Avenue. Yancy, a lifelong North Richmond resident, was pronounced dead at the scene….

Teenaged shooter gets 50-to-life in murder of Gene Deshawn Grisby-Bell

A 17-year-old Richmond resident was sentenced Friday to 50 years to life in prison for the murder of Gene Deshawn Grisby-Bell, a 16-year-old El Cerrito High School student athlete. Tyris Franklin was convicted in April in Contra Costa County Superior Court of first degree murder for shooting Grisby-Bell in front of his grandmother’s Crescent Park apartment unit on January 10, 2010. Franklin, who was 16 at the time of the murder, did not dispute that he fired the fatal shots….

Casino proposal in North Richmond nixed by federal officials

A 30-acre area of unincorporated North Richmond is not eligible for a casino, representatives from the U.S. Department of the Interior announced today. The Scotts Valley Band of Pomo Indians had sought to build a large casino on a 30-acre slice of land in North Richmond near Parr Boulevard on the Richmond Parkway. But according to a department press release, Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Donald “Del” Laverdure determined that the tribe’s application does not qualify for gaming because the…

Courses help ready local contractors for Richmond public projects

Like many construction contractors, Willie McGary was hit hard by the real estate meltdown a few years ago. “The jobs dried up, and then the competition became overwhelming for what was left,” McGary said. What was left in the West Contra Costa County area were mostly public sector projects, and the qualification process for bids left small independent contractors like McGary overwhelmed. “It’s a whole new world,” McGary said. It was this reality that prompted the West Contra Costa Unified…

Richmond National Park visitor center to open Saturday

Since it was established in 2000, the Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historical Park has been a local gem that preserves the city’s legacy as a booming shipping hub during the war years. But the sites are spread throughout the city, and the park has lacked a central location where visitors can start their tours. That’s about to change. The park’s new Visitor Education Center will be the site of a day of events beginning at 10 a.m. Saturday,…

Richmond clergy talk crime, politics and community over breakfast in Parchester

About 50 people, including more than a dozen influential African American clergy members, two councilmen and Police Chief Chris Magnus gathered for breakfast Saturday at Greater El Bethel Baptist Church in Parchester Village. Like they do on a Saturday every month, the religious and civic leaders discussed issues facing Richmond, including health, politics and public safety. Key on this Saturday was discussion of Richmond Ceasefire/Lifelines to Healing, a community-driven collaboration with law enforcement to reduce gun violence through a multifaceted…

Richmond leaders hail completion of J.O. Ford Elementary construction project

City and school district officials joined more than 100 residents and students to officially open the new facilities at J.O. Ford Elementary School in Richmond on Saturday, including new classrooms and playgrounds and modern, colorful facade. “When our kids can go to a first-class, world-class facility like this,” Councilman Jim Rogers told the crowd, “we say we care about education, it’s important. The kids can see that we’re walking the walk.” The ribbon-cutting ceremony and pancake breakfast Saturday morning marked…

Men and Women of Purpose draw Richmond leaders to open house event

More than 120 people crowded into the parking lot of the Neighborhood House of North Richmond around noon Friday for music and food. They also learned more about the Men and Women of Purpose, the new community-based nonprofit a that offers programs aimed at reducing violence, recidivism, homelessness, drug abuse and chronic unemployment. “The turnout, the support, the momentum we’re building with our work—it’s all just amazing,” said MWP’s founder and program director Antwon Cloird. The Men and Women of…

Richmond police ramp up presence to head off escalating tensions

A flare up of deadly shootings in Richmond and unincorporated North Richmond has police and anti-violence workers mobilized in an effort to quell further violence. A version of this article appeared first in the Contra Costa Times. On Monday morning, 22-year-old Orlando Yancy was killed in a drive-by in unincorporated North Richmond, the second homicide in that area this year. Two days later, 27-year-old Donald Washington died after being shot at least five times as he sat in his car…

Blacknell sentenced to life without parole for 2009 crime spree

Joe “Fatter” Blacknell III was sentenced to life in prison plus more than 200 years without possibility of parole for the March 2009 murder of an up-and-coming East Bay rap artist and a September 2009 shooting and carjacking spree in Richmond and Oakland. Blacknell, now 21, was arrested after a brief foot pursuit with Richmond Police at the tail-end of the September 2009 crime spree. He was 18 at the time, and police and District Attorney Office officials say he…

Ride of Silence raises awareness for Richmond bicyclists

A version of this story first appeared in the Contra Costa Times. David Meza was the victim of a hit-and-run incident in March. A white sedan struck him as he rode his bicycle near Pennsylvania Avenue and Harbour Way, then sped away. The incident left him with abrasions on his face, palms and knees, and a heightened sense of purpose. “So often, pedestrians and bicyclists get hit by cars and they don’t speak up, they don’t think anybody cares,” said…

Richmond police arrest wanted suspect, investigate homicide, pot cultivation fire

Richmond police have had a busy 18 hours. Since 10 p.m. Tuesday, police and other emergency personnel have dealt with a seven-hour standoff with an attempted murder suspect, an early morning fire at an illegal marijuana cultivation warehouse and a deadly shooting at 10 a.m. Wednesday. The pot fire is the lowest priority investigation, according to police. “Detectives are trying to find out the information of who owns the building,” where the pot was being grown, said Richmond Police Lt….

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