Portsmouth woman takes stand to 'Stop the Violence' with bike ride

Posted at 6:32 AM, Jun 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-06 13:31:13-04

PORTSMOUTH, Va. - In 2014, Portsmouth resident Monica Atkins lost her son to gun violence when he was shot near the Portsmouth Fire Department.

"From there on out we've just been out here with my partners," Atkins Told News 3. we've been in a movement, out here, standing in solidarity, just visually in the community."

That movement consisted of an organized bike ride with a common mission -- "Stop The Violence," specifically gun violence.

When asked how she feels for others who have lost loved ones to gun violence, Atkins said, "this mother has to suffer the pain like I do."

Atkins and a local activist organization, Stop The Violence 757, came together to organize the bike ride. This is the first bike ride it held with the help of fellow community members. Their original plan was a kickball tournament, but COVID-19 forced them to cancel that plan.

The event also coincides with the tragic death of George Floyd, a man killed by a Minneapolis Police officer when the officer put his knee on Floyd's neck during an arrest. The death sparked protests across the nation and in Hampton Roads.

Bike riders gathered near the baseball field at I.C. Norcom High School. There was a moment of prayer and an introduction of several key community members.

One of which were members of the Portsmouth Police Department met with applause from those there. The officers helped escort the bike riders throughout Portsmouth's streets.

"I'm geared up and ready to go," Lateacia Sessoms, a bike rider participating in the event, said.

She brought her green bike to the event and was eager to help spread the message.

"There is a great number of violence that occurs on a daily basis and it needs to stop," Sessoms said. "If one of my brothers and sisters are impacted then I'm impacted as well."

In total, Atkins said 80 bike riders attended.

"It's time to come together and have one another's back, Atkins said. "We have to police our community. If something's not right we have to speak up, we have to save our kid's lives."

The riders were treated to food and beverages when they returned to the starting point. Scholarships worth $100 each were presented to five students.