RISC Statement on Recent Killings and Subsequent Protests

The killing of George Floyd by those sworn to serve and protect him causes righteous outrage among the members of the twenty-two congregations of RISC – Richmonders Involved to Strengthen Our Communities. This homicide – which took place on the heels of the murders of two other African-Americans (and countless others before that) – causes us to reflect upon our mission as a justice-seeking organization within the Richmond metropolitan area.

We wish to express our solidarity with our brothers and sisters protesting these killings and the historically entrenched racism and oppression at their root. We share their anger. Indeed, we too have long worked within the community of faith in the greater Richmond area for the last two decades to address systemic injustices. We are committed to continue to build power for justice, using this righteous anger as our fuel.

We pray for the families of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, and feel compelled to add our voices to those crying out and demanding change. Here in Richmond, the Richmond Transparency & Accountability Project (RTAP) has sought for changes in police practices for the last few years. We express our interest in the same solutions they are proposing – and in particular add our voices to those demanding the creation of an independent Civilian Review Board with subpoena power, and a “Marcus alert.”

RISC’s own efforts have resulted in the creation and adoption of proven policies and practices that, when taken together, have dealt a blow to the systems which have allowed racism to destroy lives. The funding of the Affordable Housing Trust Fund, the ending of out-of-school suspensions, expanding health care coverage to thousands, and the creation of a jobs pipeline are just a few examples of this.  Our current campaigns around lack of affordable housing and gun violence are also fundamentally about tearing down the racist structures that have kept African-Americans segregated, poor, and in danger, simply by virtue of where they live.

We firmly believe that, as we continue to build the power of organized people, and enter into alliances with like-minded groups, together we can end racial and economic oppression in the greater Richmond area

We call upon our Mayor, City Council, and Police Chief to do as follows –

In solidarity with our Allies -

  • Implement an independent Civilian Review Board with subpoena power (as requested by RTAP).

Gun Violence –

In recognition of the fact that the vast majority of the lives lost to gun violence in the city of Richmond are young African-American males -

  • Work with RISC to implement a proven evidence based program to end these needless killings in our city.

Housing & Evictions –

In recognition of the fact that our affordable housing crisis in Richmond is inextricably linked to our city’s painful history of racial segregation (as evidenced by superimposing a 1937 redlining map on top of a 2016 map of evictions in the city) -

  • Pass a resolution stating that, as an additional $800,000 becomes available in fiscal year 2021, it will be allocated to the Affordable Housing Trust Fund and the Eviction Diversion Program – bringing each of these funds back to the original proposed allocations.
  • Work with RISC on identifying funds from the CARES Act to be allocated to emergency housing assistance.
  • Meet with RISC members on Monday, August 31st at 6:30 pm, to state their support for a dedicated stream of revenue of $10 million annually to the Affordable Housing Trust fund.