RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) – A group of concerned community members gathered Thursday afternoon at the hotel where a man was shot by a Richmond Police Department officer earlier this week.
The group, led by Dr. Michael Jones of the Village of Faith Ministries, was prompted to host the rally after a man was shot and injured by a Richmond Police Department officer on April 1 at the Richmond Inn and Suites on Midlothian Turnpike.
Richmond Police Chief Alfred Durham says the officer shot the suspect in the abdomen after the suspect pointed a gun at officers. He’s expected to recover.
Durham added that officers recovered the man’s weapon and that police approached the suspect after witnessing him doing something suspicious.
“There were several black men shot before two days ago and no one got together,” said Jones. “So the reality is this — if this man getting shot is a way in which we can open up a dialogue, all things work together for good.”
Jones says the significance of the rally was to seek answers jointly between the community and law enforcement before tempers could flare.
Jones notes it starts with understanding responsibility.
“If you do wrong, you deserve to go to jail, but you also deserve an opportunity to choose a different lifestyle,” he said.
Church leaders say it’ll take community collaboration to curb crime and build trust between police and citizens.
“Education on both sides of the coin, both sides of the fence, is the only thing that’s going to begin to cause this situation to begin to decrease to allow the community to come together in unity,” said Pastor Marcus Campbell Abundant of Life Christian Center International.
Several members of the Richmond Police Department also attended the rally, which was organized by six local faith leaders.
Both police and pastors agree a good start to make long-term change is by educating the youth.
“It goes beyond saying yes sir or yes ma’am. It goes to a mutual respect that young and old should have for and with each other,” said Jones.
Added Major Steve Drew, acting deputy chief for Richmond Police, “This is a good start today. Pastors, faith leaders, police department working together, and when you have pastors with the same message as your chief of police, I think we’re on the right page.”
Major Drew says interacting with the youth has been a key focus of newly-instated Richmond Police Chief Alfred Durham.
“We’re seeing a lot of young juveniles with weapons,” Chief Durham told 8News in a one-on-one interview earlier this week.
He says he and his team want to help get guns out of young hands.
“Sometimes parents just don’t know where to go for help, and that’s the thing. If they want us to come in and talk to their kids or give us a consent to search, I’m willing to do that,” said Chief Durham.
The six faith leaders, listed below, will meet in the next two weeks to develop a plan to help continue to build trust between citizens and police.
Marcus Campbell (Abundant Life Christian Center International)
Marcus Martin (New Bridge Baptist)
Dr. Marlon Heiskill (Chicago Avenue Baptist)
Dr. Michael Jones (Village of Faith Ministries)
Rodney Waller (First African Baptist Church)
Emory Berry (Fourth Baptist Church)