Mayor, City Council, community leaders rally around dedication to gun violence prevention
Immediate actions include introduction of a resolution addressing the public health crisis
Mayor Levar Stoney, Police Chief Gerald Smith, members of Richmond City Council and other city leaders and community members gathered outside City Hall today to announce their intent to declare gun violence a public health crisis through a formal resolution.
The resolution outlines the current state of gun violence, which for generations has disproportionately impacted Black communities and underserved neighborhoods. It also highlights some of the work that the city and community partners have done and continue to do to combat gun violence, and calls on the state and federal governments to take specific steps to prevent gun violence in communities like Richmond.
“This resolution is a unified acknowledgement that gun violence is a public health crisis with deeply rooted causes,” said Mayor Stoney. “But the legislation is more than just an acknowledgement; it is a commitment to build on progress made and double-down on efforts in the works to address the social, economic and health inequities that often lead to gun violence.”
Continued the mayor: “The importance of gun violence prevention can be summed up in one belief: that every Richmonder, regardless of where they live, the color of their skin or how much money they make, deserves to feel safe in the city they call home. Anything less is unacceptable.”
The administration plans to ask for expedited consideration of the resolution on May 24, and multiple councilmembers have expressed their intent to co-patron the agenda-setting legislation.
The city’s Gun Violence Prevention Framework Workgroup (GVP Workgroup) is a key element of the city’s community-rooted effort to address socio-economic factors that promote gun violence within the City of Richmond. The GVP Workgroup is comprised of individuals and families from communities most impacted by gun violence, survivors of gun violence, families of loved ones lost to gun violence, and representatives from community-based organizations and grassroots entities working closely with impacted communities. The GVP Workgroup is currently working on recommendations to prevent gun violence, with an emphasis on enhanced opportunities for youth and young adults and empowering communities that have experienced high rates of violence and trauma to access networks or resources, support and healing.
The GVP Workgroup is focusing on individual-, community- and systems-level transformation, with a goal of creating safer, healthier communities where all people can succeed and thrive.
Considering the severity of gun violence as a public health crisis, VCU Health System is a key convening partner for the GVP Workgroup. Dr. Michel Aboutanos, the medical director at the VCU Level 1 Trauma Center and VCU’s Injury and Violence Prevention Program offered remarks summarizing the objectives and progress of the GVP Workgroup.
Quotes from Councilmembers
Council Vice President Ellen Robertson: “Gun violence is certainly a public crisis that extends beyond Richmond; it’s a national crisis that calls for us to use all the resources at our disposal to keep people safe. I’m fully committed to local action, as this is a normal we can no longer afford - and gun violence prevention and reform is what’s needed to help achieve that.”
Councilmember Andreas Addison: “We must be intentional and holistic in our efforts to stem the rise of gun violence and to care for our communities that have borne the brunt of its resulting trauma. We have much work and collaboration ahead, but I am proud to co-patron this resolution with my Council colleagues and the Mayor to kick-start this effort.”
Councilmember Katherine Jordan: “We’re way past thoughts and prayers. It’s time for more dollars, new laws and different strategies. I’m proud to stand with my colleagues today fighting for the resources, legislation, and attention this crisis demands.”
Councilmember Stephanie Lynch: “A coordinated effort to address the gun violence crisis in communities across the city is essential to addressing the systemic trauma these neighbors have experienced due to generations of red lining. The time for action is now – and we are here to listen to, support, and invest in our trauma impacted communities. It will take all of us rowing in the same direction, with that same goal in mind to achieve this in our city and region.”
Councilmember Ann-Frances Lambert: “I am proud to co-patron this legislation. Gun violence is a public health crisis that affects each and every resident of Richmond, whether directly or indirectly, and a community crisis requires a community response.”
Councilmember Michael Jones: “I'm proud to be a co-patron of this Resolution with the Mayor and other members of Council because I understand the importance of safer neighborhoods. A city must do everything within its power to ensure that no one dies at the hands of another. We must commit to programming that interrupts violence while investing in the future of our communities that have been impacted by gun violence.”
The event was livestreamed on the city’s Facebook page, . Please visit the page for an archived recording of all remarks.