Local clergy, police unite to encourage community to speak up about violence

Posted at 9:46 PM, Mar 14, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-14 23:19:36-04

Norfolk, Va. - Clergy across Hampton Roads met with local police on Monday to talk about the recent violence.

The Tidewater Metro Ministers Conference, which includes more than 50 member churches, Norfolk City Manager, Chief of Police and Portsmouth Chief of Police held a news conference at the First Baptist Church in downtown Norfolk.

On the weekend of March 5th and 6th there were seven shootings in five Hampton Roads cities.

Seven people were shot just in the City of Norfolk between March 10 through 13.

"One of the things that we've been doing is to watch the proliferation of crime in our neighborhood," says Pastor Keith Jones, of Shiloh Baptist Church in Norfolk.

The group discussed how to get the community to speak up about crimes.

"People really don't talk, people can observe crime but because of fear of retribution they don't say anything at all," says Pastor Jones. "One of the things that I think we have as clergy is vast audience every week, we can get the message out."

Among several plans, the group discussed putting "anonymity boxes" or "tip boxes" in local churches so the community can have a safe place to give police information about crimes.

"It is more than  just a conversation talking about it, we want them to come forth with information that they have," says Pastor Melvin Blackwell, of Little Zion Baptist Church in Smithfield.

Tidewater Metro Ministers Conference members say they also plan to hold town hall meetings and "Speak Up Sunday's" at church to continue to push the community to speak out about crimes that are happening.

However, they say, they cannot do it alone.

"This is not just a push of ministries and churches this ought to be a push from the community at large," says Pastor Robert Murray of First Baptist Church in Norfolk. "Organizations like fraternities and sororities. One person who dies in our streets may not be related to me but that's someone that could have been related to me, my concern ought to be the concern of my neighbors."