It has been a very difficult past week
in Richmond. Many of you are aware of the horrific
rape and assault of the young woman, 15 years old,
at Richmond High School.
We, in the City of Richmond, extend our
full support to the young woman and her family. We
know that recovery (physical, mental, and emotional)
will be a long process.
week, I was interviewed by many reporters and shared
my outrage and pain over this horrendous crime. This
incident is deeply troubling and our police department
is fully engaged in making arrests and conducting a
horrible incident occurred in Richmond, there is no
doubt that this incident is symptomatic of a much larger
problem. While the national media has chosen to cast
disparaging light on the City of Richmond, this incident
is not about Richmond. It is about violence to women,
experienced daily throughout America. Every nine seconds
in the US a woman is sexually violated.
violence against women is based on social injustice
propped up by advertising and commercial interests
that choose to portray women as sexualized objects,
passive and dehumanized, apart from real human relationships.
A Richmond High teacher
rightly said that this is a “teachable moment,” and
it is a teachable moment that must extend beyond the
moment and sink deep into our national consciousness.
Sexism, along with racism, poverty, and all forms of
social decay continue to exist in our nation because
we have not put all forces to bear into opposing them.
deeply troubling incident in Richmond is indeed a
time for reflection. It is time to reflect more deeply
on the injustices that are allowed to fester in our
society. Every one of us has the responsibility to
critically analyze the root causes of social ills.
Why did some among our youth stand by in the face
of this heinous crime? Yes, there is something wrong
here, but it doesn't’t originate in our youth and
it doesn't’t originate in Richmond. The status quo
culture throughout our nation does not encourage
youth to stand up for justice. Nor does it encourage
youth to speak truth to power. We see young people
too often being shaped, molded and told to "fit in" to
this unjust society without questioning its persistent
flaws. When we call upon on our youth to not stand
by passively in the face of a crime, we must call
upon ourselves to not stand by as our youth come
of age in a world filled with problems, and instead
encourage them in the strongest way possible to stand
up for something better.
And the media must
be called upon as well. They must be called upon to
look deeper at the issues they cover. Shockingly, I
was told by a prominent Bay Area TV News reporter when
she questioned me about this horrendous act of violence
in Richmond that she “didn't want to hear about social
injustice.” Well, the problem should not be separated
from the cause, and, in my view, the media has a responsibility
to explain Richmond’s issues in the context of our
overall systemic problems. News stories leave a profound
impact upon our youth. In Richmond you will find the
brightest and most empathetic youth as you will find
anywhere. Many have overcome huge challenges in their
young lives already. They are refusing to take on the
image that the press too often places on Richmond youth
and our community as a whole.
In response to this
rape, I participated in a very moving press conference
organized by youth groups at Richmond High this past
Thursday. Check out the strong voices of our youth,
their teachers, and adult allies at Richmond High School
here (scroll down on the page to the video):http://www.examiner.com/x-27745-SF-Headlines-Examiner~y2009m10d29-Community-rallies-in-wake-of-weekend-gang-rape-of-15yearold-girl-in-Richmond-California-video
Another activity, a Peace Rally, will
be held in front of Richmond High on Nov. 7 at 11 a.m.
to continue to extend support and raise awareness.
family of the rape victim has requested that donations
and cards (no flowers at this time) be sent to their
pastor, Pastor Jim Wheeler. He is coordinating the
funds on behalf of the victim.
Cards, donations and gifts can also be
sent to Richmond High School and school staff will
make sure these items are delivered to the victim's
family through Pastor Wheeler.
Make checks out
Church of Richmond," with "Victory over violence fund”
written in the memo line.
Address: First Presbyterian Church of
Richmond 3415 Barrett Avenue Richmond, CA 94805
Pastor Jim Wheeler Email: email@example.com
Phone Number: (510)234-0954 Fax Number: (510)234-7377
Any cards and donations received by the
school district, including those sent to Richmond High
School will be forwarded to Pastor Wheeler.
Gayle McLaughlin Mayor City of Richmond