The Choice: Prison or Death?

Editors’ Note: Over a 72-hour period last week, 3 young men – all from North Richmond – were murdered. The rash of violence sparked this reaction from one North Richmond youth, who submitted this anonymous blog to Richmond Pulse. From the bloggers’ perspective, being young and Black in North Richmond presents a catch-22: Either risk falling victim to the next “bullet with no name,” or arm yourself for protection and run the risk of being caught by police who will label you as part of the problem and thrown you in prison.

Blog by Anonymous

In Richmond, it’s not safe to walk around by yourself or without protection. This past week in my neighborhood (North Richmond), there have been several shootings and young men are being arrested for trying to protect themselves. You never know when the enemy will come through and shoot. Innocent people are dying, but at the same time, what are we supposed to do about survival? I catch the bus to school everyday. How can I avoid being shot while just waiting at the bus stop?

We have a choice out here: We either get killed or go to jail.

If you don’t understand what I’m trying to say, it’s that this is the neighborhood we live in. We come outside and enjoy the fresh air just like anybody else in Richmond, but we risk getting shot every time we step outside. And we can’t try to protect ourselves, because the police circle our neighborhood – the only part of Richmond where sheriffs stop us every other minute.

Gang activity is an issue in my neighborhood, but do that mean that when you trying to protect yourself, you’re an active gang member? Let me answer that for you: No!

Everybody that lives in North Richmond is not a part of the gang activity, but everybody is afraid of the bullet with no name. A lot of people are angry in my neighborhood, and sad, because of the losses that we had.

I’m not someone who feels that I should not be able to go to the other side of town because I’m from North Richmond. I do what I want to do! But I’m still paranoid when I go to school everyday. I can’t protect myself, and if I do and get caught with a gun, I’ll be a part of what they call “gang activity.”

So what am I to do?


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