By Mark Robinson
Tuesday's march to Mosby Court.
Maybe this time, enough really will be enough.
Hundreds of children, teenagers, parents, activists, clergy and elected officials marched Tuesday evening from Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School in the city’s East End to Mosby Court, denouncing the endemic violence in the public housing community. The procession ended near where police found the project’s most recent homicide victim, Ra’Keem Adkins, 22, last Thursday night. Two others were injured in the shooting that left Adkins dead.
Mosby knows sorrow too well. Earlier this year, 41-year-old Frizzell Belton was killed on the 1300 block of Coalter Street. Last October, 15-year-old Zyemontae Redd was killed and two others were wounded when assailants fired more than 30 rounds at a party in the 1400 block of Coalter.
“This is like déjà vu. I don’t know how many times in the last 25 years I’ve been in this situation,” an impassioned Delores McQuinn told a crowd of onlookers milling around a too-small, concrete basketball court wedged between two of the barrack-style buildings that make up the central portion of the public housing complex. Residents spilled out of units onto porches and into the courtyard to listen to McQuinn, a Henrico County delegate in the General Assembly, and a series of speakers appeal to residents to take back their community.
“Many of us have been in this battle a long time,” says Ellen Robertson, whose City Council district includes Mosby Court. “The most powerful statement is really, we’re doing this to ourselves.”
“Let this not be a rally cry, but a rally call,” says Cynthia Newbille, 7th District councilwoman, reading from prepared remarks. “This is our child. This is our city. This is our community.”
Several other City Council and School Board representatives participated in the march and attended the following rally.
Earlier in the day, Mayor Dwight C. Jones and Police Chief Al Durham held a joint news conference in the public housing complex to announce arrests in the Adkins case. Milvon Witcher, 29, and Dominique Walker 22, are charged with conspiracy to commit murder. Both live in the housing project.
By May 11, 2014, the city had tallied 18 homicides. This year, eight people have been killed in the same period. Three of 2015’s homicides have occurred in the East End, just one fewer than all of last year.