Community Leaders Meet to Discuss Ways to Stop Violence

By: Val Thompson Email
By: Val Thompson Email

July 29, 2014

A group of community leaders met again Tuesday night to discuss ways to stop violence in Charlottesville. The group formed in response to the city having three homicides in a span of two months.

All of the victims, Antonio Washington, Oscar Brown Jr., and Otis Edward Scott, were young men.

"Maybe we need to get angrier about what needs to happen and exercise some righteous indignation," said Holly Edwards, a former Charlottesville city council member who attended Tuesday's meeting at Mount Zion First African Baptist Church.

There was a large amount of righteous indignation earlier this month, when group members marched through certain neighborhoods in response to Scott's murder.

Now the movement has entered a quieter, more grinding phase.

Just a few dozen people showed up to Tuesday's meeting, a far cry from the initial meeting, which needed three large rooms to accommodate everyone. Still organizers like Alvin Edwards, the pastor of Mount Zion, say they see the group making progress.

"One of the things in this community I'd like to see is that everybody values everybody's life," Pastor Edwards said.

He also wants to see is a critical incident response team. Essentially it would be a group of people who would come in after a tragedy and help put the community back together.

"The policemen, they have to do what they have to do," Pastor Edwards said. "But sometimes the people, the victims, the victim's family, they need someone else to talk to."

The group also discussed reaching out to schools so they can help children cope when violence happens in their neighborhood. Pastor Edwards has another idea, too.

"One of the things I would love to do is to meet with the gang leaders," he said. "They haven't been up for it so far because I've been trying to do it for the last three years."

"Change never happens fast enough," Holly Edwards said.

Pastor Edwards is also considering going to Virginia Tech to better learn how they responded to the mass shooting in 2007 to learn ways to respond to violence in the city.

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