A gift for Mother’s Day | Richmond Free Press

Every year around this time, all good kids, regardless of age, take a break and find the perfect gift for mom.

It can range from a bouquet of flowers and a lavish brunch to something as simple as a drawing or a heartfelt note handwritten on a card or piece of paper.

But this Mother’s Day, as a community, let’s give the mothers of Richmond the greatest gift we can – and that’s to stop gun violence.

Every day, news comes in from the Richmond Police Department that another person has been shot or killed or taken to a local hospital with life-threatening or non-life-threatening injuries after being shot.

Last year in Richmond alone there were 101 murders, the highest number since 2004. Most involved firearms. Richmond police classified 90 of those murders as homicides.

So far this year, there have been 18 homicides in the city, 16 by firearms. 64 other people were shot dead.

But these police statistics don’t tell the whole story of mothers grieving and heartbroken over the loss of a son or daughter. At any age, a parent shouldn’t have to bury their child – or grandchild – or pray that the skill and care of doctors and nurses at VCU Medical Center can help their child through.

The trauma of each violent episode in this city extends far beyond the victim, affecting mothers and families for life. No mother should have to hear that her son or daughter is gone.

We salute the efforts of so many people and organizations working to change this dangerous and destructive path that some of our residents are taking. Mayor Levar M. Stoney, the City Council and School Board, Virginia Commonwealth University, VCU Health, and many individuals and organizations, including RISC, Richmonders Involved to Strengthen Our Communities, are mobilizing to help identify and treat the causes of violence and why guns and murders are seen as an answer.

We are grateful that new federal and municipal funds are being applied to the problem, but we know that dollars alone are not the answer. The meaning – the meaning of the street – is also necessary. That’s why we support the use of “violence interrupters”, that is, recognized people on the street who are known and part of a community, to intervene and help break the cycle of violence.

We are concerned, however, that placing these switches of violence under the umbrella of the Police Department could hamper their effectiveness from the outset. Although training by the police and other agencies is crucial to their success, we believe they should be viewed by the community as independent and not an arm of law enforcement.

We urge Mayor Stoney and members of city council to review the many studies documenting the effectiveness of similar programs in Baltimore, Oakland, CA, and New Haven, Connecticut, to name a few. There is no need for Richmond to reinvent the wheel. Other cities are more advanced in their broad community focus on gun violence prevention, and we as a city can learn from their experiences, which have been both positive and negative. Three violence switches with Baltimore’s Safe Streets program have been taken down in 13 months, with the last being earlier this year. So it’s a program that Richmond needs to enter without blinkers and with as much knowledge as possible.

Each December, Linda S. Jordan and the Coalition Against Violence, which she founded, hold a grim memorial for homicide victims and their family members. While it comforts families, it also brings tears.

Ms Jordan buried her teenage son in 1990. He was just 19 when he was murdered.

The loss is hard for mothers to bear. We hear their anguish at community vigils and balloon releases conducted almost weekly by Charles D. Willis and United Communities Against Crime. But mothers need more than eves, candles and stuffed animals. They want the violence to end.

We hope the people of Richmond dedicate this Mother’s Day to all the mothers who have lost sons and daughters to gun violence and come together to end it.

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