“Get off of him!” is what I audibly shouted as I watched the video of George Floyd visibly going lifeless.
After watching the video I posted the only words that would come to my mind, “There is absolutely no excuse. I am heartbroken.”
I have vowed that if elected I will personally review the Richmond Police Department’s policies and training on restraint, use of force, and conduct complaints. I support increased training for our officers on these issues and also on dealing with mental health crises. I support bringing additional resources to our precincts in the form of social workers and mental health professionals which would include the reinstatement of the Second Responders program.
It is the mayor’s job to establish the culture within city government, including with the police department. It is the mayor’s job to make sure we are doing things the right way here in Richmond.
I will provide oversight that will accept nothing less than a department that protects and serves ALL of our people.
What I cannot support is the allowance of the destruction of our city.
Seeing a van at my church that is used for community service all over Richmond with a busted window made me angry, but that was getting off very easy.
Yesterday as I walked up and down Broad Street surveying the destruction of Richmond small businesses, many black owned, I was again heartbroken.
Seeing them putting up plywood where their storefront windows used to be and putting up signs that say “black owned business” or “black lives matter” hoping that would help spare their life’s work from getting destroyed was devastating.
I have my own small business where I only work with small business owners. I know that to make it work you have to pour your soul into it. Small business owners work nights, weekends, and basically every hour they are awake to make it work. You don’t get vacations and you are always on call. You are the one that carries all the stress relating to making sure everything goes as it should.
We do all that because creating something that earns you your own source of income is the most freeing and rewarding thing you can do. It is also a very powerful tool for economic mobility.
The sound of saws and power tools up and down Broad Street is the sound of failed leadership.
If we want to build up our city to provide opportunities for our people, then our small businesses should be supported instead of allowed to be destroyed.
Every dollar we spend on overtime having city employees clean up the city and every dollar of lost tax revenue if these businesses don’t reopen, is a dollar that we cannot spend on our city schools or on police training/accountability.
This should never have been allowed to happen.
Mayor Stoney has failed to address every issue facing Richmond. Our schools have the lowest graduation rate in the state, broken streetlights with exposed wires go unreplaced, roads remain unpaved, and basic services go months without being completed. 2 years ago when Marcus David Peters was killed by a Richmond police officer, he refused to have a public meeting with his family. The last two months he has failed to implement any coherent plan to get our city through the Coronavirus health crisis. And finally, this weekend he let our city become a warzone.
I love Richmond and I hate to see this.
I believe we deserve better.
We deserve better than a mayor who allows Richmond to be destroyed and innocent people to be harmed. We deserve a leader that leads during a crisis instead of making excuses and passing the buck to the state or federal governments. We deserve a leader who acts proactively to prevent tragedy instead of one who reacts when it is too late or not at all.
That is why I decided to run for mayor. I am tired of seeing our elected leaders fail our people. I am tired of them acknowledging problems but then taking no action to solve them.
I am a firm believer that the most effective way to bring change is through the ballot box. If we want change, then we must elect change.
We have an elected mayor, city council, chief prosecutor (Commonwealth’s Attorney), sheriff, and clerk of court. If they are not providing the oversight and change that we seek then the answer is not violence and destruction but making sure to vote for new local officials.
I believe that being the mayor of your city is the most important elected office in the country. At the local level is where real change happens.
Richmond can and should be the center of meaningful change across the country, and if elected I will work tirelessly to build our city up instead of allowing it to be torn down.
Let’s make that dream a reality by continuing to move Richmond forward together.