6/25/2020, 6 p.m.
We supported Mayor Levar M. Stoney’s call for the resignation of former Richmond Police Chief Will Smith.

During this time when police departments across the nation are under scrutiny for excessive force, violence, abuse and killings of unarmed African-Americans, we believe the people of Richmond deserve truth and transparency about the past so that real change can be made for the future.

It is important to build community trust going forward with the mayor’s “Roadmap for Public Safety Reform.” But all of the goals and objectives will be meaningless if the public sees no effort to fully acknowledge and address Chief Blackwell’s past.

During a brief news conference last week after his official appointment, Chief Blackwell refused to answer any questions about the 2002 fatal shooting. He called it “a completely different situation,” saying, “We’re not going to go into any details associated with it because that’s not what we’re here for today.”

He has since turned down all media interviews and avoided any public appearances, including during last weekend’s historic Juneteenth celebrations around Richmond. He has not been out among the people or talking with protesters.

True leadership comes not with shrinking from mistakes, but by acknowledging them, learning from them and showing how this community will not suffer the same pitfalls in the future because new systems will be put in place.

If that can’t be done, then both Chief Blackwell and Mayor Stoney should go.