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Community conversation aims to end violence and unify community

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RICHMOND, Va. -- There was sadness, frustration, and passion Tuesday night at a local community meeting following a violent week across the country this past week.

But there were also ideas! Ideas on how to make a difference, and ideas about unity.

"If we want to talk about solutions a lot of it starts with the mentality in our community," said a young man who spoke to the crowd during an open forum session.

Hundreds of people filled the Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School auditorium in Richmond Tuesday night for a conversation about how to end violence.

"I reject the false narrative that black on black crime must be addressed as a prerequisite to address the police factor,” said one gentleman.

"We need the police, but we need our black males also because we will not have a future," said a female who waited patiently to speak her mind.

Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones and Richmond Police Chief Alfred Durham listened and answered questions about how to bring citizens together to work with city leaders to make the streets safer and keep the peace.

"When you have this many people you have a lot of solutions, but the truth of matter is i think that people are basically tonight being positive about things that can happen in order to make our city a better city," said Mayor Jones.

"We're all about the business of the preservation of life. It's as simple as that. Building relationships, preserving life, and making the community strong to drive our crime down," said Chief Durham.

Attendees said the biggest takeaway from Tuesday's event was getting citizens to take a stand on what is wrong, to hold people accountable, and end the violence.

"The police department cannot do it all. The city money cannot do it all. But we can do it!" said one speaker emphatically.

Chief Durham also added that building a relationship between the community and police was key and that the Richmond Police Department has 22 programs designed to mentor to kids.