Community activist says uptick in violence in Richmond is 'alarming'

Community activist says uptick in violence in Richmond is 'alarming'
Posted at 12:04 PM, Oct 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-20 12:04:57-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Community activist Charles Willis met with the family of a recent homicide victim as they were making funeral arrangements on Tuesday night.

Willis spoke about the recent gun violence in Richmond and how to stop it.

The homicide victim was a man who had been killed one week ago on Lamb Avenue in Richmond.

Willis said that the uptick in violence across the city is alarming. While he acknowledges that there isn't an easy fix, he suggests that there should be more thoughtful teaching on conflict resolution.

He said that he also welcomes the return of Project Exile.

The program, created in 1997, guaranteed that anyone who was caught with an illegal gun would serve five years in federal prison.

The program never formally ended but publicity around it and its use stopped around 2010.

Willis said the program worked for Richmond back then and sent a strong message to the community.

"Project Exile was an excellent opportunity. It brought a lot of awareness that Richmond was not to be able to play with. Laws were not to be taken for granted," Willis said.

Despite Willis' support, there are critics of the return of the program.

They argue that the program is inherently racist, targeting city suspects, who are usually Black and Brown, who face federal charges, while suspects from outlying counties, who are usually white, face only state prosecution for the same crimes.

So far, city leaders that CBS 6 have spoken with say they are not in favor of bringing the program back.