NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – Community members in Norfolk gathered together for a good, old-fashioned community cookout. However, this cookout aimed to discuss ways to minimize violence.
Members of the Stop the Violence Team wanted to provide a space for the community to get to know each other after a year apart.
Chair Bilal Muhammad says the purpose was to have meaningful discussions on ways to minimize violence in the city.
“We need this social bond to become more relaxed and to open up better so that we can create better events for our community,” he said.
In the back corner of Northside Park, friends and neighbors gathered to reconnect over food and music before the week begins.
Norfolk Mayor Kenny Alexander said this afternoon was more than a cookout, it was a space for collaboration and discussions.
“It’s the coming together of ideas and solutions,” he said. “No matter how large or how small the crowd is, the fact that people are talking, people are communicating, they’re standing against violence and crime.”
He also said it’s about taking steps to address root causes of crime, including the spread of illegal guns.
“There are too many illegal guns that are getting into the hands of the wrong people,” he said. “And these guns are being used in crimes.”
A moment of silence honored the 29 lives lost to gun violence in the city so far this year.
Now, it’s about taking action.
“They ready to open up the recreation centers. Open up other facilities. Now we’re going to create activities because we have more engagement,” said Muhammad.
Community members say it’s important to provide safe spaces for kids and teens to stay busy.
They hope to have another event in August.