Editors’ Note: A portion of the April 3 broadcast of Street Soldiers – a weekly call-in radio program on KMEL – was devoted to a discussion about a recent slew of shootings that last week took the lives of three young men from North Richmond. Below is a transcribed portion of that radio program, in which Dr. Marshall, the show host, interviews Joe McCoy from the Richmond Office of Neighborhood Safety and Khalid Elahi, a neighborhood youth advocate and community worker from Richmond.
Dr. Marshall: Violence is flaring again in Richmond, California. Tensions are at dangerous levels and folks are wondering if this is just the beginning of more violence. We sure hope not. One thing we don’t want is the continuation of this deadly violence. So we here at Street Soldiers are asking folks to let it go and stop.
I got a couple folks from Richmond who also want to plead for peace.
Lets start with Joe McCoy of Richmond’s Office of Neighborhood Safety and then Khaild Elahi, who knows what it’s like out there. Joe, you had to go out to the scene of one of these shootings. You work on the streets in Richmond. What’s the mood of things right now?
Joe McCoy: As you said, the Richmond streets are all on high alert. We have a lot of things that are going on that folks don’t understand. We have a lot of instigating going on, but we just want brothers to… calm it down. Our theory is, you don’t have to like each other, just stay in your own lane. We not asking you to love each other and play cumbaya, but we just need you brothers to stop shooting each other and just stay in your own areas.
Dr. M: No one wins with this. The hard thing with this is, once it gets going it’s hard to stop. It becomes tit-for-tat. It goes back and forth. It becomes a rallying cry for turf and neighborhood tensions, sometimes. But in the end, you have mothers at funerals and the choir singing, ‘Near My God to Thee.” So nobody wins with this.
JM: You can’t kill an enemy, Doc. You just make more enemies.
Dr. M: You said it, right there. You can never kill an enemy. In fact, I would venture to say that the dude you care about and love, you’re really getting him killed. Because a lot of times, he’s going to be next – the dude you’re with – because of your actions. I know that folks aren’t necessarily thinking (about that) when they go out and do something fueled, a lot of times, by other stuff.
I want to thank all the folks that are out there that are working real hard. I want to thank everyone out there doing that, because you have to go out there and talk to these folks. We know the police is out there, but the ones who are out there in folks’ ear like you (Joe McCoy) are just as important, if not more important.
Khalid Elahi: All I been hearing lately is, “He got shot. He got killed.” I’m lost for words. We need to get more into action in Richmond, because this was going to happen. When crack came into our communities and we serving they mommas, and this is they kids and then they kids start having kids and everything got off track. And nobody is fixing it.
When my brother got killed – and this is for brothers out there acting off revenge and mad and everything – that was the most precious thing in my life. I was just an ordinary brother running around the streets of Richmond fighting for power, wanting to be the toughest one, when the thought came across my head that I could kill a thousand people and I’m gonna still feel sad. When I knew that hurt, I said “Wow, I’m going to have to start helping kids and help somebody else to not make the wrong choices in life, because no matter how much killing I do or how much wrong I do, I’m still going to feel a loss.”
You take a man’s life, his seeds will grow, and them seeds will nurse off revenge, and later on nurse off of alcohol, pills and dro.
Your name will inspire and motivate their willingness to kill, their willingness to forget that they ever was a human being, and their willingness to feel. You can never kill an enemy.
You see the act that you committed. You got 10 and 11 year-olds out there now saying that they wit it. See, I’m serious about what I’m saying because I seen – meaning saw – so many youngstas just up and walk away from sports, and they be hella raw. It’s because of people like me and people like you, (who) get pushed and react out of anger only because we was taught that that’s what you suppose to do. But in real life, though, we make grandmama’s sob, we take over communities, and li’l kids’ childhoods and futures we rob.
We forget that if you touch one you got to touch ’em all, and beef don’t stop ’til everybody drop. You take a man’s life, his seeds will grow. Them seeds will nurse off revenge and later on nurse off of alcohol, pills and dro.