RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC)– A group representing Richmond educators is declaring an emergency following the violence that impacted students this week.
The Richmond chapter of the Virginia Caucus of Rank-and-File Educators, also known as VCORE, released a statement on Wednesday following a mass shooting in the city.
The shooting killed Shawn Jackson, 18, and Huguenot High School graduate, and his stepfather, Renzo Smith, 36, on Tuesday. Richmond police said three minors were injured in a separate shooting near Mosby Court on Tuesday night.
The Richmond VCORE said in its statement, “This is an emergency situation, and requires an emergency-level response.”
The group provided a list of actions that call on city and school leaders to put a behavioral specialist in every Richmond Public school, teach about healthier food choices, combat poverty by addressing the housing crisis, and implement gun violence intervention programming throughout the city — among other actions.
A local group, Richmonders Involved to Strengthen our Communities (RISC), has been pushing for gun violence intervention programming for years.
Ralph Hodge, the pastor of Second Baptist Church, has been involved with this effort. He said you have to target the most at-risk group with resources.
“You throw a kitchen sink at the very small group. That’s the key, is the very small group that are at the highest risk, because all the studies show that in a community, only about half of a percent of the community is connected to most of the violence,” he said. “You can’t really arrest your way out of that problem.”
The city hasn’t adopted this effort and instead rolled out other initiatives like the gun buyback program. Darrell Turner, an educator at MLK Preschool, said the graduation shooting was heartbreaking.
“Our awards ceremonies are supposed to be safe spaces, so for me, it was disheartening to see,” he said. “As an educator, it made me think about how am I going to explain this to my students. How am I going to support them?”
Turner said VCORE’s list is a good starting point.
“I think that provides a roadmap of where we can start, but there’s a lot of work that we need to do in order to get there,” he said. “There is an old adage, it takes a village, and it’s going to take our collective village in order to put a stop to this gun violence.”
Hodge said RISC is supporting VCORE’s list of actions.
“What it requires now is political courage to direct the money to the proper places and make the right investments for the short term and the long term,” he said.
RISC and other local groups are hoping to meet with Mayor Levar Stoney in the next two weeks to talk about their efforts.