HAMPTON, Va. (WAVY) – The city of Hampton is hosting a regional symposium today that will address crime involving African-American males.
Data shows young African-American males are involved in a significant number of violent crimes in Hampton Roads – both as victims and offenders.
Symposium organizers say they want to connect the cities and send a united message that crime won’t be tolerated.
Synethia White, Hampton’s Youth Violence Prevention Program Manager said, “Bullets don’t stop on city lines.”
That’s why hundreds of people from the Peninsula to the Southside have gathered in Hampton for the first-ever symposium titled: “The Urgency of Now: Changing the Narrative for Black Males from Failure to Hope.”
“I think it’s timely. I think it addresses an issue that is pervasive not only in Hampton but nationally, and more importantly regionally,” Hampton Mayor George Wallace said earlier this week.
Officials say in Hampton alone, African-American men between 15 to 24 make up nearly half of all arrested for violent crimes, but that group is less than 5 percent of the entire population.
“No matter how you worship or where you work or what you do for a living or what the color of your skin is, this is our issue to address and solve together,” White said.
She’s spearheading the event that will bring Virginia’s governor and other state leaders along with representatives from every Hampton Roads city to the Hampton Roads Convention Center.
“If we come together and say we’re all doing this together, this is not going to be tolerated anymore in Hampton Roads, it sends a united message and we’ll have a greater impact,” White said.
The event will feature session topics that address ways to engage young African-American boys and prevent them from turning to crime.
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe spoke at the first portion of Thursday’s symposium.
Young people will even address adults in hopes of being part of a solution to the problem.
“It’s something that has to be done because we can’t afford to ignore it anymore,” White said.
Register for the event here.