Richmond bands together to end crime

March 15, 2008 4:09:46 PM PDT
As many as 1,000 volunteers are taking to the streets of Richmond on Friday night in a 24-hour effort to stop crime.

The event is called "Not Today" and Richmond churches will open their doors through the night offering free food, counseling and camaraderie.

Richmond Police believe their presence on the streets Friday night deterred some crime because it threatened punishment. But they said this grass roots effort of citizenship can also possibly deter crime because it puts pressure on people to make the right choices and make the right decisions.

Richmond residents gathered at six churches they called lighthouses ? they are home base for this "Not Today" effort.

"If something can be done for 24 hours it can be duplicated even longer se we want to provide at least a 24 hour period that says hey, life can be different--- we don't have to shoot each other, we don't have to kill each other," said Pastor William Coleman from the Praise Fellowship Bible Church.

"We're offering, starting tonight, 12:00, counseling, a good night's rest," said Richmond resident Leila Edwards.

There was music, medical and drug counseling, and free food at the churches. Hundreds of volunteers will then walk the streets all night long, meeting and greeting everyone they see in an effort to obliterate crime.

Richmond already has tallied seven murders this year after last years 47 homicides. Police say violent crime is starting to go down and they want to keep that momentum.

That's given this mother hope. Her 20-year-old son was gunned down in a drive-by shooting last summer.

"We take the streets back to take a stand that these are our streets, these are our children and we want a safe community," said mother of murder victim Raequel Smith.

As the sun rises, a massive litter pickup will begin.

"We'll have dumpsters on certain streets that will be blocked off so we can clean up the community. We're going to cut lawns, whatever we need to do to show the community we care," said Pastor Marc Gandy from the Miracle Temple.

"And then we move into our today program which is our rehabilitation for the city of Richmond. And that's a five year span rehabilitating the citizens of our community," said youth pastor Kevin Muccular.

The "Not Tonight" program starts at midnight on Friday night and will run for 24 hours straight into midnight on Saturday night. It will mobilize 40 local churches and nearly 1,000 volunteers.