Axios Richmond

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ğŸŽ§ Sounds like: "Take on Me" by a-ha.

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Today's newsletter is 929 words — a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: RPD activates curfew after string of teen gun violence

Photo illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios. Photo: Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg via Getty Image

Richmond police are ramping up patrols in "hotspots" and activating an 11pm curfew for teens in response to a spate of gun violence that killed four teenagers in the last two weeks.

Why it matters: Eight Richmond Public School students have been shot and four of them killed since Easter. Elementary school students were among the youngest victims; a 14-year-old middle school student was the youngest killed.

The big picture: In an emotional press conference Monday, Richmond Police Chief Rick Edwards, Mayor Stoney and RPS superintendent Jason Kamras pleaded with the community to help them curb the sudden increase in violence.

  • "The common theme in these murders are simple arguments that have escalated into gunfire," Edwards said Monday.

Driving the news: In response to the recent killings, beginning this week state police will help RPD patrol 21 "hotspots" where the city has seen the most gun violence.

  • RPD will also provide "security and extra police presence" at RPS drop-off and pickup locations, especially in East End schools.
  • An 11pm curfew for teens is also now in effect.

Richmond, like its adjacent localities, has a long-standing youth curfew on the books, running from 11pm-5am.

  • Violations can be punishable by a max $500 fine and mandatory 20 hours of community service, according to city code.
  • It's unclear how strenuously RPD plans to enforce the curfew. Edwards said his hope is that parents will ensure their kids are following it and that police will not have to intervene.

Between the lines: Frustration, sadness and palpable anger — that was the tone from officials at Monday's press conference.

  • "Everybody has a damn gun," Stoney said.
  • "These are small arguments that escalate, but everyone in the argument has a gun — that's how we're seeing what we're seeing," Edwards said.
  • "This has to stop," Kamras said.

Stunning stat: "Since 2019, 169 juveniles in the city of Richmond have been shot. Nearly all of those were RPS students," Kamras said Monday.

Go deeper to see what's next

2. Youth are turning to ERs for mental health help

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Kids in Virginia are increasingly seeking mental health care in emergency rooms, per new Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association data.

The big picture: VHHA found the number of pediatric patients visiting ERs for anxiety and depression in early 2023 surpassed pre-pandemic levels.

Why it matters: ERs weren't meant to be mental health providers, but limited resources outside of hospitals are leaving young patients with few options.

State of play: The youth mental health crisis has hit a boiling point, with officials recognizing the role schools should play in intervening early.

Yes, but: They're up against social media's impact and issues like gun violence, which became the leading killer of children during the pandemic and can lead to increased mental health risks for youth survivors.

  • Then there's the behavioral workforce shortage.
  • 70% of Virginia localities had no child psychiatrists in 2022, the latest data available from the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
  • Richmond, Henrico and Chesterfield had 59 total.

Keep reading for Virginia's youth mental health care ranking

3. 🌊 The Current: Convenience store protest

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

🏪 Hundreds of Virginia convenience stores will close from 3:50-4:50pm today to protest Gov. Youngkin's skill game amendments. (WTVR)

  • The amendments ban them from operating within 35 miles of other gaming establishments, like casinos or Rosie's, and propose a 35% tax rate on businesses operating them.

🤐 A judge overseeing the Richmond graduation shooting trial issued a gag order barring prosecutors or defense attorneys from speaking to media outlets while they ready arguments on the motion withdrawing Amari Pollard's guilty plea. (Times-Dispatch)

ğŸŽ° NFL Hall of Famer and Virginia Beach developer Bruce Smith is joining Cordish Cos. for a bid to open a Petersburg casino. (Virginia Business)

4. Restaurants still aren't getting late meals tax notices

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

The city of Richmond sent late notices to 58% of delinquent meals tax accounts during a recent seven-month period, according to a new report from the city auditor.

Why it matters: The other 42% considered delinquent between July 12, 2022 and Feb. 13, 2024 did not receive any notice telling them they owed a balance.

  • July 2022 is when the city said it began sending late notices to delinquent account holders. By February, the city was a month into the recent meals tax debacle.

The big picture: The report, which the city auditor did at the request of City Council, offers an updated and more detailed look at the city's meal tax program amid the flurry of issues earlier this year.

  • In addition to late notices sent, the report also outlines how many meals tax accounts were actively considered delinquent by the city, how much was owed broken out by principle, interest and penalties.

By the numbers: As of Feb. 27, 673 restaurants were considered delinquent by the city, owing in total around $10.9 million.

  • $2.28 million of that was interest, fees and penalties.
  • $8.57 million was owed in principal balances.

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5. 1 fun fact to go: 🥔 Virginia has a Potato Board

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Last week, Gov. Youngkin signed a bill lowering the membership of Virginia's Potato Board from seven to five people.

Why it matters: It's a reminder that there's a state board with a Potato Fund to advertise and research all things potatoes.

The big picture: The Board was established in 1994 to compete with North Carolina and Delaware, which have promoted their potatoes so much that they've taken business from Virginia, per our Potato Board's annual report last year.

Yes, but: Potato lovers aren't eligible for the board if they're not potato producers.

Keep reading for when Trump mentioned our potatoes

🥖 Karri is reading about an Atlanta restaurant that tried charging for chips and salsa and remembering how The Blue Goat once tried to charge $5 for freshly made, amazing bread and Richmond lost its mind.

⭐️ Sabrina would like to be Virginia's first potato influencer to help the cause.

Thanks to Fadel Allassan for editing and Carlin Becker for copy editing today's edition.