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Watch Groups Launch Campaign Against Street Crime



The Guardian Angels are bringing their fight against crime to Richmond City Hall and the FM airwaves, saying it's time to take action against black-on-black homicide.

Jo White and Tommy Cox, who co-founded the Richmond chapter of the citizen patrol organization, are launching the campaign with support from city Neighborhood Watch programs.

Thirty seven people were murdered in the city last year. Thirty six of the victims were black, White says, and so were "most, if not all" of the perpetrators. "There's something wrong and something needs to be done," she says. "We want to deal with the people who are right there on the street who are causing our city to go down."

The campaign will start with the basics: a neighborhood cleanup in Highland Park on Saturday at 10 a.m. The group will meet at Fire House 15 Restaurant, 3011 Meadowbridge Road. White says she hopes the cleanups will become an official citywide event every third Saturday. Litter, vandalism and graffiti create an environment conducive to crime, she says: "A society that appears to be lawless will itself breed lawlessness."

The group also is asking local radio stations to drop "music that promotes violence" from their broadcasts.

Richmond Police Chief Ray Tarasovic says his department will begin its support of the initiative by providing more crime data and focusing on enforcement of trespassing laws.

While the neighborhood watches aren't equipped to address the roots of black-on-black homicide, White says, they can deal with what she calls "the aftermath." Overall, she says, the neighborhood watches want to make it more difficult for drug dealers to operate by squeezing out "thug" culture. She says a start would be a City Council ordinance requiring surveillance cameras in front of any store with an Alcoholic Beverage Control license, and School Board support for a more strictly enforced school dress code.

"We've lost more black youth in the community than in war," Cox says. "A lot of people don't realize this."

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