Taking Action: Newport News’ Minute Men making a return 25 years later

Posted at 4:45 PM, Apr 13, 2015
and last updated 2015-04-13 19:50:34-04

Newport News, Va.-  Lawrence Atkins took an oath back in 1997 in order to become a Minute Man. Now at 73-years-old, he's working with Newport News police and schools to bring back the Minute Men.

The Minute Men were a group of about 100 volunteers who for nearly 10 years took action to keep kids safe at bus stops. During that time, there was a serial attacker on the loose in Newport News' East End.

Lawrence Atkins

"They had young ladies getting sexually assaulted going to and from the bus stops," Atkins said. "They knew the police were doing all they could do, so the community said, 'Let's get involved.'"

And the Minute Men got results. The man known to local media as the East End Attacker was arrested in 2000. Shortly after that, the Minute Men faded away.

"I think we did make a difference," Atkins added. But he says it's time to make a difference again.

"This is my community. I was born and raised here and I have pride in my community. I think getting involved is a part of you being a citizen in your city," he said.

Atkins says now more than ever is when the community needs to take action as the crime in Newport News is getting worse and the victims are getting younger. Just last week, 13-year-old Jada Richardson and 17-year-old Domingo Davis were shot and killed at a party on 25th Street. Police believe it was gang related.

"Like any other parent or grandparent, you get worried if your child can go out and play," Atkins said, "Especially because bullets don't have a name."

Atkins is working to get the Minute Men reestablished as a non-profit. His vision is to have volunteers at every bus stop on every street in Southeast Newport News. He's hoping to get volunteers to sign up and go through training this summer before the program officially re-launches next school year.

If you'd like to volunteer, you can contact Lawrence Atkins at (757) 281-9729 or you can sign up at the Pearl Bailey Library in Newport News on April 22nd at 7:00 am.