PORTSMOUTH, Va. – City leaders and community activists are gathering in Portsmouth Wednesday evening to talk about gun violence.
The event is being called “The Tale of Two Cities: Gun Violence Epidemic.”
Police chiefs and elected officials from both Norfolk and Portsmouth were expected to participate. However, with Wednesday's announcement of the retirement of Norfolk Police Chief Larry Boone, Boone decided not to attend.
The coordinator for the event was Bishop Barry R. Randall.
The gun violence forum was open to the public. It was held inside Portsmouth City Council Chambers at 801 Crawford Street.
During introductions, Bishop Randall talked about how, today, he came across a woman lying in a Portsmouth street, seemingly sick or injured, and how he saw people passing her by. Randall said he and another woman stopped and gave the woman first aid.
"Not only when you see something, you must say something, but you must also do something," Randall said to the crowd of approximately 60.
Chief Renado Prince talked about how community policing is essentially nosy neighbors watching out for each other. He also asked the public to speak up and give the police department a report card.
"I have a mission and that mission is to bring peace to the people of our city," Prince said at the beginning of the meeting.
Linwood Williams, founder of C.U.T.S. Youth Employment Program told the crowd, "Even gang members want to be part of something."
"Police need to be in the community," stated Williams, adding, “It’s going to be a marathon. It’s not going to happen overnight.”
Another town hall meeting is being held Thursday, April 7 from 6:30 - 8:30 p.m. That one will be in Norfolk at 223 East City Hall Avenue in the Free Rein Studios. It's being called "Let's Talk about Gun Violence," and it's hosted by Violence Intervention and Prevention VIP LLC.
It is free, but organizers want attendees to register. For more information, click here.