RICHMOND, Va. — Community members made their voices heard in CBS 6’s "Stop the Violence" community town hall held Thursday night at the Richmond Police Academy training center.
“What do you have that you believe will help stop the violence with the youth,” asked one community member during the discussion.
CBS 6 connected the community directly to leaders who can create change with CBS 6 Anchors Bill Fitzgerald and GeNienne Samuels moderating the conversation.
The panel included the Richmond Public Schools Superintendent Jason Kamras, Chaplin for Richmond Police and Founder of Virginians in Action Cruz Sherman, Robert Bolling with ChildSavers, Richmond Interim Police Chief Rick Edwards, Richmond Public Schools Teacher Thelma Samuels, Commonwealth’s Attorney Colette McEachin, Tonya Simmons-Williams who lost a son to gun violence and Richmond Deputy Director of Public Safety Brian Swann.
CBS 6 engaged with the community prior to the town hall with an online survey. Then, at the town hall, people were able to ask questions with Crime Insider Jon Burkett facilitating. People could also their questions live online on the CBS 6 Facebook page.
Citizens asked the panelists about the trends they are seeing and what solutions can be put in place. Many wanted to know how people are getting guns to commit crimes.
Edwards said many are coming from people stealing them out of cars. But McEachin, said it’s greater than just that.
“You can go online or on the street and buy a gun for $500. The issue is how do you keep guns off the street from people who are buying those guns off the street,” she said.
The community also had questions surrounding kids being involved in the gun violence. Kamras said a lot of kids are hopeless and have experienced trauma after trauma.
Kamras added the community needs to work together to create hope for kids that there is a future for them, and provide them more mental health resources.
Sherman believes it will take changing how people communicate with kids.
“The mentality is different now and that’s what we’re losing the battle is we are using old methodology to try to transform a system but we’re not communicating effectively,” Sherman said.
You can watch the full town hall on the CBS 6 Facebook page, and more from different community voices at the CBS 6 Youtube.
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