NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – In Newport News earlier this year a 6-year-old shot his teacher. Earlier this week, in the Young Terrace public housing community in Norfolk, an 11-year-old shot a 17–year-old boy who was left with critical injuries. Just before Christmas on Sykes Ave in Portsmouth, 13-and 16-year-olds were charged in the murder of a 17-year-old. Two others ages 17 and 18, have also been charged in the Skykes murder.
Bilal Muhammad of the Stop the Violence Team, said the community is awash with illegal weapons, and having worked on the gun violence problem for decades, is still at it.
“They (children) are being influenced by the guns and everything in the community and they are looking for a better direction,” Muhammad said.
As the carnage continues, Muhammad says entire families and the entire region are at risk.
“The family – both sides – has to go to court,” Muhammad said. “The entire family structure is in pain. When you have that type of violence taking place in the community structure we’re talking about the city of Norfolk and we are talking about the Hampton Roads community.”
Next month Muhammad and others will host the 23rd annual Hampton Roads youth leadership, Stop The Violence conference.
“We hope to accomplish bringing in many coalition groups along with this 23rd annual youth conference,” Muhammad said.
Regina Mobley: Bilal you have been working on this problem for decades, but it feels like one step forward two steps back?
Bilal Muhammad: Exactly. We have been working on this for a long time. We hope that this message will move them [coalitions] back into their community so that they can begin to rebuild and restructure their community for the youth.
The Conference Takes Place on April 15 at 11 a.m. at the Kroc Center on Ballentine Boulevard in Norfolk. For more information contact Abdul Alvin Aswad at HRcots@aol.com.