Three gunman open fire at New Gethsemane Church of God in Christ in Richmond, CA…Is nothing off limits?

February 15, 2010

If we can’t be safe in church, then where can you be safe?

Damn, Richmond in the National News again, and it is not for anything we want to be known for.  How did it go sideways?  Times are not that tough are they?

It has to start with the parents.  I am not one for limits but maybe China is on to something.  You can’t have kids if you can’t afford to take care of them.  We used to have Ubuntu in the community, but we are certainly only after ourselves now. The community spirit is gone and I am afraid that we might have lost it for good.  This stuff didn’t happen when I was growing up.  The only things that I can put my hands on is that the block stopped raising our young, because it couldn’t have seen what crack and other hard drugs would do to the community.  Ronin and I grew up in the parts of Richmond that you are hearing about more and more, the Iron Triangle.  We managed because we were forced to walk the straight and narrow.  We are not geniuses, but we were willing to work for ours.  That, and the refusal to only look short term.  The master plan needed some focus and we got help from a lot of teachers as well.

The Church was also our parents.  We went to St. Peter’s CME Church.  While I am not a defined by the church as I am now a believer in spirituality and doing right because we need to help others (I am agnostic) my values were shaped here.  Whether or not you believe in a particular brand of religion, the one thing that most of them do is give you a foundation of how you are to treat others.  We just don’t have that much anymore.  That Ubuntu, or community spirit is defined…

Archbishop Desmond Tutu offered a longer definition in a 1999 book:[3]

A person with Ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, for he or she has a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated or diminished, when others are tortured or oppressed.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu further explained Ubuntu in 2008:

One of the sayings in our country is Ubuntu – the essence of being human. Ubuntu speaks particularly about the fact that you can’t exist as a human being in isolation. It speaks about our interconnectedness. You can’t be human all by yourself, and when you have this quality – Ubuntu – you are known for your generosity.We think of ourselves far too frequently as just individuals, separated from one another, whereas you are connected and what you do affects the whole world. When you do well, it spreads out; it is for the whole of humanity.

Louw (1998) suggests that the concept of ubuntu defines the individual in their several relationships with others, and stresses the importance of ubuntu as a religious concept. He states that while the Zulu maxim umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu (“a person is a person through (other) persons”) may have no apparent religious connotations in the context of Western society, in an African context it suggests that the person one is to become by behaving with humanity is an ancestor worthy of respect or veneration. Those who uphold the principle of ubuntu throughout their lives will, in death, achieve a unity with those still living.

Nelson Mandela explained Ubuntu as follows:

A traveler through a country would stop at a village and he didn’t have to ask for food or for water. Once he stops, the people give him food, entertain him. That is one aspect of Ubuntu but it will have various aspects. Ubuntu does not mean that people should not enrich themselves. The question therefore is: Are you going to do so in order to enable the community around you to be able to improve?

We don’t have that community ethic anymore and it is causing me to lose my faith in people….

This is the area Ronin and I grew up in....

RICHMOND, CA (KGO) — In a brazen attack in the East Bay Sunday, three men stormed a church in Richmond, opening fire during a service at the New Gethsemane Church. Two teenagers were hit by the bullets and the gunmen got away.

New Gethsemane Church of God in Christ is a very spiritual church. About 175 church members were engaged in open prayer and gospel music was blaring when the shooting happened.

Several people in the church were keenly aware of three young male suspects, possibly teenagers, who walked into the sanctuary around noon. Witnesses say they were wearing black hoodies over their heads which raised a red flag.

Still, nobody thought they would pull out guns and start shooting.Richmond police say they wounded two male victims. A 14-year-old and a 19-year-old suffered non-live threatening injuries to the ankle and shoulder.

“I even got my praise off. I instantly got paranoid,” said church member Dianne Brown. “I turned around the whole time. Then, the other guys came off the choir stands, you know, the men that felt it too.”

“In spite of the shooting that took place, Pastor Leviaz said he wasn’t going to let anything stop God’s program,” said Rev. Andre Shumake, president of the Richmond Improvement Association. “So in spite of the shooting, I want the world to know that here at New Gethsemane, Gods’ program continues. He held service, they sung they prayed and they worshiped God as though nothing had happened.”

The church and surrounding neighborhood was locked down for at least one hour until police could secure the area. Richmond crime scene investigators believe the suspects fired about five shots inside the church.

The three shooting suspects are still at large.

This really shakes the core beliefs of someone when a place of worship turns into gangland.  No one wants that in their community, but what can we do about it?  We can keep moving to more exclusive neighborhoods and gated communities, until we become the prisoners.  I hope that we can simply take back our towns.  While I have a healthy hatred of the police, being black and fitting the description, they are going to be a necessary ally to solve this issue.  But, the community and parents have to come together first.  The hopelessness that forces gang memberships starts with not having a caring community to raise a child and parents who are incapable of showing love and affection.  Plus, when reading other stories, they mentioned the Richmond High rape, since that put us on the National Map….

But, I want to give dap to the parishioners who kept it moving and found faith in the music and prayer….

5 Responses to “Three gunman open fire at New Gethsemane Church of God in Christ in Richmond, CA…Is nothing off limits?”

  1. tophatal said


    If the Klan can fire bomb a church that kills four young black children then gunmen firing indiscriminately shouldn’t be anything new to us at all.

    Here endeth today’s lesson !

    Alan Parkins

  2. […] 16, 2010 With the church shooting this week, I know that criminals will do anything to get their hands on that gwap.  As I reflect on the […]

  3. Ronin Storm said

    “Ronin and I grew up in the parts of Richmond that you are hearing about more and more, the Iron Triangle.”
    Steve, you must be confused…we lived in Park Plaza Kennedy H.S. is in Laurel Park, Nana was in Eastshore and St. Peter’s is in Park View.

  4. Steve said


    You are forgetting that I used to live in 433 34th St, when I lived by the Library and when I was a kid we lived off Nevin, bordering the Triangle…

    The point was the city is divided up like that, but you really don’t hear them saying, hey there is this one bad part of Richmond and the rest is great…

  5. Ronin Storm said


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