NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY)- Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.) joined two-dozen community, political and faith leaders from across the Peninsula to commemorate Black History Month with a round table discussion about issues in Hampton Roads.
The discussion focused largely on encouraging leadership from Black men in the community to combat rising violence amongst youth.
“I don’t feel like we have enough people who feel like ‘I have a responsibility to help someone else’,” Hampton Mayor Donnie Tuck said.
Speakers also focused on the importance of programs and sports leagues to keep youth busy and out of trouble. But barriers to those programs remain an issue, they said. Youth football coach Rick Witherspoon said that every year, families show up to football registration and can’t pay the $160 to play in the league.
“Where do you think they go? I can promise you, after 12 years of coaching little league sports, it is not the mother, it is definitely not the father. It is someone who has the mindset of ill will,” Witherspoon said.
Scott and Kaine also addressed the Jan. 6 Richneck Elementary School shooting, when a 6-year-old allegedly shot his first grade teacher. Kaine said he met with Richneck families in a private meeting two weeks ago to discuss school and community concerns.
“I walked away from that discussion with ‘Boy, it’s hard to be a young person today. And it’s hard to be the a parent of a young child’,” Kaine said.
Scott said that he disagreed with the move to add metal detectors to Newport News Public Schools.
“People wanna spend money on metal detectors and not on counselors and that kind of stuff,” Scott said. “I can tell you I’ve been in politics long enough,” Scott said. “You have people yelling at you at the school board meeting, metal detectors gonna shut them up.”
The two also held an event at Fort Monroe to discuss a proposed Chesapeake National Recreation Area.