Dear President Ryan,
As the Charlottesville Community mourns the senseless and tragic loss of Devin Chandler, Lavel Davis Jr., and D’Sean Perry, we thank you for your compassionate leadership during this difficult time. We hold space for the families of these young men, for Michael Hollins, Marlee Morgan, and their families, all who witnessed the event, the UVA and Charlottesville community, and everyone impacted by this horrific act of violence.
Our community knows all too well the human cost of gun violence. Last month, two teenage boys were shot in a parking lot near the Downtown Mall, and an individual was killed outside a local restaurant. In the past six months, the Charlottesville Police Department responded to approximately 162 calls of shots fired.
We carry in our hearts the people taken from us, the survivors whose lives are forever altered, and the trauma and fear our community faces. Public prayers and tributes provide a measure of comfort, and we are grateful to you for leading these efforts. However, it is now time to lead a more profound and impactful effort.
In solidarity, we ask that you advocate for the change needed to prevent gun violence in Charlottesville and our nation.
As president of a world-class educational institution, you work alongside experts on preventing gun violence. UVA Professor Richard Bonnie was an original architect of Extreme Risk Protection Orders after the Sandy Hook massacre. And, just this past May, a coalition of national researchers, including experts from UVA, issued a call to action that included an 8-point violence prevention plan. As one of the researchers asserted, “scientifically, we know what to do to reduce gun violence. The question is whether our leaders will do it.”
We call on you, President Ryan, to be one of those leaders. We ask you to use your influence and the power of this moment to address gun violence as the public health crisis that it is and to advocate for evidence-based prevention policies that include:
You have called for the University to be a beacon for what is great and good. Your leadership could make a difference. In our community and the nation, this truly matters.
Elizabeth Shillue, Director, Beloved Community Cville, UVA parent
Michael Cheuk, Assistant Director, Beloved Community Cville; UVA alum
Sharon Harris, Newsletter Editor, Beloved Community Cville; UVA parent and alum
Apostle Sarah Kelley, Docent, Beloved Community Cville; UVA "Hidden Nurse"
Scott Hamler, Media Consultant/Producer, Beloved Community Cville; son of long-time UVA employee