PORTSMOUTH, Va. - The death of Kemon Battle, 12, prompted De'Andre Barnes to speak at the city council meeting on January 8.
Barnes is the young boy's cousin, and he is the newest and youngest member on the school board.
Barnes told News 3 that he grew up in Dale Homes at 79 Dale Drive. It's ironically feet away from where Battle was killed.
He suggested city council members work to end violence between children in the community. It was the second time he spoke with them about the issue.
"If they don't do something about what's happening in the community that's going to provide more resources for our children, then something was going to happen," Barnes said. "Fast forward to a year later, December 21, my cousin was shot in the next neighborhood."
Battle was shot in the upper body inside an apartment building on Lexington Drive.
He was rushed to the hospital, but died the next day.
The school board member wants more money to be invested in schools and programs that are trying to keep kids off the streets.
"If we don't pay for our children now, we will pay for them later when they're getting in trouble," Barnes said.
Sports is one outlet he said keeps low-income children out of trouble, as many can't afford a gym membership.
Portsmouth Redevelopment Housing Authority removed the neighborhood's basketball court years ago.
They told News 3 the court in Dale Homes created problems because it brought in people who weren't residents and it wasn't accessible for all ages.
It's what motivated Barnes to start the Portsmouth City Sports Club in 2014.
"We try our best to make sure that we don't turn any kids down, but sometimes it's hard because of the finances in the things that we have to pay for," he said.
There are a few programs listed on Portsmouth's Redevelopment and Housing Authority's website for children to take part in.
Barnes is still holding Portsmouth City Council accountable for the shooting homicide although an arrest has been made.
"When something happens today, when a kid gets shot or a kid goes to jail, the problem didn't start today. It started a long time ago when they were allowed to choose their path," Barnes said.
News 3 has reached out to Portsmouth City Council for comment. City Attorney Solomon H. Ashby, Jr. responded below:
Out of respect for the Battle family and their loss, the City of Portsmouth will not be making any statement about this matter. Moreover, the matter remains under investigation by the Police and any further comment would be inappropriate.