RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — On the heels of a mass shooting that killed a mother and her baby, injured three others and traumatized dozens more, Richmond’s city council is now planning a $500,000 gun violence prevention program.
Councilwoman Stephanie Lynch said each life taken by gun violence has devastated the city, but said it was the Belt Atlantic Apartment Complex shooting on April 27 that pushed council to the point of saying “enough is enough.”
At a meeting Thursday night, the council decided they want to put half a million dollars into what Lynch called an “unconventional” step in the right direction.
“Every time there’s a crisis, folks come out and pay lip service to this issue, but what are we actually doing?” Lynch said in an interview with 8News Friday. “It’s more than we’re gonna do something about it. It’s we are doing something about it.”
She said the idea is to fund support and services for families and communities affected by gun violence, like granting stipends for mentorships, faith healing, and individual case management. “Hurt people hurt people. Traumatized and trauma-impacted communities bring more violence, more trauma, more anger,” she said.
To pay for it, the councilwoman told 8News that council negotiated with the Mayor Levar Stoney’s office, setting aside $133,000 dollars from the next fiscal years’ balanced budget to fund for two program coordinator positions. Those people would manage the funds and coordinate the responses.
“Ultimately, this was about putting our money where our hearts are,” Lynch said.
An additional $366,000 not spent in the previous fiscal year, she says, would be appropriated to fund the actions taken.
“We have nothing right now to fund some of that community-based grassroots work,” she said.
According to Lynch, a social worker, each response will be individualized to a community’s specific needs. “None of this is a one size fits all,” she said.
Lynch thanked her fellow councilmembers for supporting the progress and thanked the Mayor for negotiating to make the proposal a possibility.
Mayor Levar Stoney said he is concerned about the ongoing gun violence in the city. He recently stated that community members need to “value life more” while getting emotional at a news conference following the mass shooting.
In the coming weeks, Mayor Levar Stoney is expected to officially declare gun violence a public health crisis while addressing the incoming program, according to his spokesperson Jim Nolan.
The council is set to vote on the budget in the coming days, and if approved, would officially lock the program in.
The mother and baby killed at the Belt Atlantic apartments will be laid to rest in Richmond on Saturday.