Portsmouth, Va. (WAVY) – A community activist in Portsmouth is fed up, citing what he calls a lack of leadership from Portsmouth Mayor Kenny Wright.
“We are concerned with the murder rate that is in this city,” said community activist Barry Randall, who also calls himself the ‘people’s pastor.’ Randall is planning a protest for 5:15 Wednesday night outside City Hall, because he says Mayor Wright has failed to adequately address growing violence in the city.
“We’re not even blaming the mayor for the crime. We have an issue when you have crime in all 50 states of the United States of America, and when the crime rate spikes high, all mayors speak. We have a mayor that won’t say anything,” he said.
The city’s homicide count ticked upward to 25 Christmas weekend after a man was shot and killed inside a Wendy’s on Victory Boulevard Sunday. Portsmouth police also responded to two other shootings that same night that left two people wounded.
“We want the public to know the truth about what’s happening and the truth is we have a mayor that is out of touch with the reality of his city.” Randall said he’s so fed up, he’s planning a protest outside city hall Wednesday at 5:15 p.m.
“We’re going to be here on the front steps of city hall with parents, loved ones, community leaders, business people that are concerned with the failed leadership of our mayor,” Randall explained.
Randall originally slated his protest for Thursday evening, not Wednesday, but he moved it up by one day. After his original announcement, Mayor Kenny Wright also announced he was planning his own news conference to address crime also scheduled for Thursday, hours before Randall’s.
“It’s a political ploy to pacify the community and say he’s doing something,” Randall said. “If you’re going to lead, lead us. But if you’re not going to lead, we ask that Mayor Wright resign and leave,” he said.
In an effort to be as fair as possible, we called city hall and asked to speak with Mayor Wright. We were told that that despite Thursday’s scheduled news conference he is out all week.
As we’ve previously reported, Mayor Wright rarely makes himself available for the media and has refused to answer our questions multiple times.
But, given Randall’s claims we even tried to call Mayor Wright’s personal cell phone twice. We left two messages.