EDITOR’S NOTE: The shooting deaths of a 14, 15 and 21–year-old in Richmond this month have rocked the community and have youth advocates and community leaders looking for answers. In light of the recent killings, Richmond Pulse asked young people where they felt most safe and where they felt least safe. Here is what they had to say.
The RYSE Center
For me, there’s no safe spot or scary spot, it’s just how you feel. Anything can happen. As a young woman in Richmond, you’re taught to hold your own ‘cause the streets don’t play.
I feel safe at home and at the RYSE Center. RYSE is like someone else’s home because people care about them and try to help them. Everybody looks out for each other. They are able to be themselves. They’re always trying to make sure we feel safe.
-Ashley Thomas, 17
I feel most safe in downtown Richmond because that part of Richmond is most known to have visitors. I feel least safe in the part of Richmond I live in, which is Narf Richmond. I feel least safe there because it’s so small so a lot of people get hurt in crossfires and I would hate to just be leaving my home and happen to get hurt.
-MyOwn Williams age 16
There is no safe space in Richmond! Everywhere and anywhere you go, it’s dangerous. Police sirens everywhere you go. That’s all you hear. Young men are getting shot left and right. There’s nowhere safe. You just have to be safe on your own. Or at least try.
-Journi Nickayla Kiel, 14
At the library
I feel the most safe in the San Pablo library because I’m always with something I love (books). They are so comforting and I love to read. I also feel safe at home because I know nothing can harm me there and I always have a place to go to when something is going bad at school or in the streets.
I feel most unsafe in the streets of Richmond and even sometimes at school. In my neighborhood there are a lot of shootings and crime so I isolate myself inside my house. I don’t feel comfortable going outside like I use to do as a child. I also feel unsafe being at school because there are a lot of people telling everyone what to do, what to wear, and how to act. There are a lot of fights, drugs, and bullying at school that even if anyone tries to stop it, it just keeps coming back.
-Betsy Romero, 15
I feel safe everywhere in Richmond. Richmond in general has become a FAR safer place than it was back in the day. I can walk anywhere without feeling like someone is going to kill me. Back in the day, I used to live in the apartments on Carlson Blvd. There used to always be people talking outside the apartments. Most of the conversations ended with fights. Because of that, I used to be scared to be anywhere outside my house. Sometimes I had the unholy “joy” to hear gunshots too. Even at school I wasn’t safe. Back in second grade, I heard someone got expelled for having a knife on them during class.
I honestly believe that it’s the people you associate with. I feel the least safe anywhere where there’s violence involved; it doesn’t have to be a specific place. If you stay away from bad people, you won’t have to worry about everyone trying to kill you!
-Ronvel Sharper, 16
I feel the safest when I’m at home because I’m surrounded by people who love and care for me, like my parents. They have always protected me from getting in trouble, making choices that could backfire or from anyone that wanted to cause me harm.
Richmond isn’t one of the most dangerous places. The reason I see Richmond differently than most people is because I’m part of the community. Every day I see the beauty of something so damaged. It teaches you to stay optimistic and work hard for what you want. Richmond is seen as a place full of criminals and violence but there is so much more than that. For instance Richmond High School: When the rape incident occurred it increased the school’s bad reputation. Yet people don’t seem to notice the improvements it has made. Richmond High sends a high percentage of students to college.
I don’t believe there’s a place in Richmond where I feel least safe, probably just the areas I am unfamiliar with. I don’t think there are specific areas to avoid. Things always just happened when you’re somewhere at the wrong place and at the wrong time.
-Mar Perez, 17