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Richmond Marches After Valentine's Day Church Shooting

YO! Youth Outlook Multimedia, Video, Commentary, Sean Shavers Posted: Mar 26, 2010

On Valentine's Day, three hooded black men walked into Richmonds New Gethsemane Church and opened fire while services were in progress, shocking the community. I dont know whether it was because homicides have spread like wildfire or because this particular shooting happened inside a church.

Since then, there's just been a tremendous amount of outcry and concern from the community. So much so that the church organized a march to protest against violence on March 6, stating that they will never let this happen again.

I was so intrigued that I had to see the march and film the event myself. The march was beautiful. People were holding hands and singing spirituals. It almost made me cry. The police and the community were one. We prayed together, ate together and marched together.

Unfortunately, when I conducted interviews about the shooting, there were many broken hearts. "It was just unbelievable, said Marie Jones, who was praying when the gunmen walked in. You come into Gods house and disrespect his house, its not okay.

Choir director Tina Lavyis also witnessed the shooting. She described the tragic event in detail, from the suspects' entry to the actual shooting.

I also interviewed the pastor, the police chief and the police captain for the city of Richmond. It was interesting to see how similar each one of these interviews were. They all spoke of how tragic the event was and how it should have never happened.

In everything I gathered, the thing that stood out the most were the interviews.

Two women were on the verge of tears when I made them relive the shooting. They described how the three boys entered the church with weapons drawn and fired several times, injuring two young men.

Honestly, I never thought this could happen. People usually see the church as a sacred place, not a war zone. It just goes to show that folks are too violent these days and could care less about innocent lives. I mean, you have to be completely out of your mind to fire shots in a church, knowing there's kids and elders inside.

Before the march started, the city of Richmond held a job fair at the Civic Center, where they also served free barbecue and had a selection from the church's choir.

It was amazing to see 3,000 people all marching for one cause. Not only did people in the city march. but other local cities marched as well. I was happy to see pastors, bishops, police officers and citizens all holding hands together. People were smiling and you could tell that love was in the air, with folks from Oakland, Berkeley, Vallejo, and Sacramento. This march wasn't so much about the church or Richmond, for that matter, but mostly about bringing people together.

Tina Lavyis said, "This happened so the world can see that God is real."

And yet, I wonder what would have happened if this shooting had taken place somewhere besides a church. Would we still have had the march? Weve never had a march for any of the other shootings. But as soon as it hits a church, the whole community comes together.

I feel like we take most shootings too lightly. This isnt the first eruption of violence. Richmond has a long history of violence and crime in general. A march isnt going to prevent homicides, but the people in the community can.

We need to look at the root causes of violence, but we also need to inform the police of crime and demand peace in the streets. We have to take control of our neighborhoods and defend our streets. We need to say that all beef between people stops today and violence is no longer an option.

Related Articles:

Richmond Violence Goes to Church

Urban Homicide in 2009 What Does the Good News Mean?

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