NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — A packed room heard possible solutions to gun violence during a Stop the Violence Rally Sunday afternoon in Newport News.
The 2nd Annual Not My Child Stop the Violence Rally opened the floor to allow the audience to talk directly to city leaders. Solutions to stop gun violence were discussed just days after a six-year-old, his teacher at Richneck Elementary School.
“We need to know what’s out there. We need education,” one attendee said.
One of the organizers of the event, Troy Ketchmore, told 10 On Your Side that the community needs to come together and deal with the problem of gun violence together.
“This is a societal issue. That is not isolated. We have to deal with this as a community,” Troy Ketchmore, one of the organizers, said.
The rally allowed the community to address violence issues head-on and brainstorm ideas and solutions.
“We can solve this thing in numbers,” Ketchmore said. “Together, we are going to try to come up with solutions. Some may work, some may not, but we are going to try to do something.”
Some attendees said that they wanted adults to plug into the community, others said there needs to be more neighborly love and some brought statistic-based programs to the table.
“We have to put the neighbor back in the neighborhood. Everyone needs to care and be concerned. Like I said earlier, get your hands dirty. We just need to do more,” Lula Leonard said.
Darrell Redmond of Give Back 2 The Block says he has changed the London Oaks area of Portsmouth, which was known for being a hot spot for violence over the years. Redmond says the key to creating change is by going into communities and using the resources they have.
“Have to come change and reform and know the heartbeat of the community. Go inside and utilize the skill and connect them to resources. What communities lack is credibility,” Redmond said.
City leaders also brought ideas during the rally. Newport News Police Chief Steve Drew says he is looking to change the police academy.
“I want to change our police academy to be more academic based to work with professors and different professionals to bring some different things in,” he said. “I think there is a lot to be said about humanity, equity and psychology and how the mind works. Sociology is the study of societies and communities and neighborhoods.”
Newport News Commonwealth’s Attorney, Howard Gwynn, told the audience the community needs people who commit crimes to be held responsible.
“We always talk about prevention and intervention, but we seldom talk about the folks who are in this room that are in pain,” he said. “There are people in this community who know who committed this violence because no one will say anything. The pain continues. The injustice continues.”
Mayor Phillip Jones addressed the crowd and said, “It doesn’t matter if there is a murder. I’ll pull up. The days of thoughts and prayers are over. I’m kind of tired of it. It’s going to require a unified effort… It’s going to take all of us.”