Richmond Community Summit Targets Black-on-Black Crime By RICHARD BRENNEMAN

Friday June 03, 2005

Troubled by the city’s bloody history of black-on-black youth violence, the Richmond Improvement Association is sponsoring an all-day conference Saturday aimed at ending city murders within three years. Rev. Andre Shumake Sr., who heads the organization modeled after Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Montgomery Improvement Association, said the community-wide gathering is focused on solutions to the city’s notoriously high murder rate. 

Last year, Richmond, a city with about 100,000 residents, recorded 35 homicides, the vast majority black-on-black crimes, he said. “That’s one every 10 days.” 

Participants include 35 community groups, featuring clergy, top-ranking police officials, neighborhood associations and others. Members of the public are welcome to attend. 

“At the end, we will launch a three-year initiative to reach a goal of a zero homicide rate,” said the cleric. 

The program, held at Lovonya Middle School, 3400 Macdonald Ave., opens with registration at 8 a.m., followed by a morning program starting at 9. 

“Our morning sessions will focus on crime and violence, cultural awareness and spiritual response, and in the afternoon will focus on political action, economic development and education and youth,” Shumake said. 

The noon interlude will feature both music and an address by African-American best-selling author Dr. Jawanza Kunjufu, who has written several books devoted to the plight of young black males. 

The program will conclude at 5 p.m. with a review of the day’s events. 

The need for community action is clear, said Shumake. 

“I got a call from the son-in-law of a man who was murdered in Parchester Village who was killed as he was dropping off a friend. He was glad someone was finally doing something,” said the minister. 

One of the inspirations for Saturday’s session was August’s murder of De La Salle High School football star Terrance Kelly, who was gunned down two days before he was to leave for the University of Oregon on a full-ride scholarship. 

That killing resulted in the formation of a “Blessed are the Peacemakers” campaign, created by Shumake, Richmond NAACP branch President Rev. Charles Newsome and Minister David Muhammad of the Richmond Nation of Islam Mosque. 

That campaign led to Saturday’s meeting. 

Shumake stressed that black-on-black shootings, often highly territorial in nature, threaten the whole community. 

“Many residents have a false sense of security because they think these things can’t happen in their neighborhoods,” he said, “but whenever one of these young men sees someone he doesn’t like, he may shoot without any regard for those around him.” 

The program is focused on finding jobs since many young men have said they would give up their guns if they had a decent job, Shumake said. 

The lack of jobs is the main reason many Richmond clergy members have endorsed the plans for casinos in North Richmond and at Point Molate, where Native Americans and developers have promised an abundance of jobs for local residents.