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The online student voice of Contra Costa College

Posted on March 2, 2010

Group Demands End to Violence
Panelists fed up, say ‘enough is enough’

By Asia Camagong, associate editor

As violence continues to rear its ugly head within the city of Richmond, some in the community are fed up and putting their foot down, crying out that enough is enough.

The ASU hosted a Fireside Chat, titled “Richmond Church Shooting: Enough is Enough,” in the Fireside Room on Feb. 23 to discuss individual and organizational efforts for violence prevention in response to the brutality emerging in the community.

“It takes a community to show that the consciousness of Richmond is a consciousness of peace,” Mayor Gayle McLaughlin said in a speech at the event. [emphasis added]

After the discussion, a tree was planted in the campus Peace Grove in memory of Kyle Bratton, a Contra Costa College student who was shot and killed on Dec. 14 in Richmond.

“(The event) was building a bridge with the community and trying to help come to a solution on trying to help the community stop the violence,” ASU President Kristina Bautista said.

Various attendants were present, including guest panelists McLaughlin, Student Life Director Jennifer Ounjian, Richmond City Councilman Nat Bates, early childhood education department Chairwoman Intisar Shareef and Richmond Improvement Association President Andre Shumake Sr. [emphasis added]

The chat, organized by Student Life Center Event Coordinator Henry Parker, touched upon seeking organizations to better unify the community.

“If we all do something, then we can turn this cycle of violence around,” sociology department Chairman J. Vern Cromartie said.

Outreach programs and support services available throughout the city as well as on the college campus were brought to light, showing more ways to become civically involved.

At the panel, Ounjian voiced the benefits of participating in campus services such as the Puente Program, Center for Science Excellence, Black Student Union and campus counseling sessions to better provide students a sense of support and purpose.

Cromartie said, “The time has come for us to link these programs at the college to people in the community who are vulnerable.”

With representatives from different agencies such as the Richmond Youth Student Empowerment (RYSE) Center and the Richmond Youth Academy in the room, attendants were also present to introduce local support groups readily available to help.

Olajuwon Thornton, entertainment director for the Bay Area Stop Hating Movement, spoke about how the Richmond Youth Academy (RYA) aims to teach young adults the pathways toward community service, self-discipline and academic achievement.

“(Youth) want the help and they want the love,” Thornton said. “(We’ve got to) show them there’s more to life than just standing in the corner and that (they) can achieve this (if they) just go for it.”

He also discussed the importance of people stepping outside of their environment as a means of building better character.

Parker said, “People have to get outside their safety and comfort zone, and (they) have to get out and really get involved.”

On top of seeking involvement and participation within the community to stop violence, the seminar touched bases with the preventative measure of conditioning oneself by way of changing behavior and undergoing grief counseling.

Dr. Shareef stressed the importance of stopping violence within the household, encouraging a change in monitoring one’s thoughts to produce positive feelings.

Parker said, “A lot of people see (violence) in their homes and (when they) don’t see a person calming down, (it consequently) goes from bad to worse in an instant.”

Rev. Shumake agreed, adding that grief counseling will allow community members to learn ways to deal with anger and rage, two factors leading to territorial and regional violence in the city.

Cromartie said, “You may not be the change in the world, but you can change yourself.”

Parker said the plans to organize the seminar branched from two recent shootings occurring in Richmond, one of which resulted in the death of a pregnant woman shot in her car while in the Iron Triangle neighborhood on Feb. 10.

The second occurrence, which the seminar was named after, happened on Feb. 14 after three men opened fire during a service at the New Gethsemane Church of God in Christ.

“We live in a very violent society,” Cromartie said. “(We could) turn this around by helping people discover their true self consciousness.”

A follow-up chat about violence in relationships will be held today in the Fireside Room from 12:30-2 p.m., Parker said.

“(It’s good to) get youths early in order to plan out better futures for them,” Richmond Police Commissioner volunteer Glenn Stephenson said. “It’s important that even though not everyone came, that they can spread (this information) to those that didn’t.”

Contact Asia Camagong at


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