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‘My life is not in trade for money’: Community shares mixed reactions to Roanoke’s $50K reward fund

Roanoke leaders are offering reward money in exchange for information leading to arrests for those causing gun violence in the city

Gun violence has been an issue in Roanoke for a long time, and now, Roanoke leaders are offering cash rewards to curb these crimes.
Gun violence has been an issue in Roanoke for a long time, and now, Roanoke leaders are offering cash rewards to curb these crimes.

ROANOKE, Va. – The latest effort in the fight against gun violence in the Star City is a new reward fund: in exchange for information that leads to an arrest and conviction, you’ll get money.

Renea Taylor lost both her brother and her father to gun violence in Roanoke. Both cases are still unsolved. She co-founded F.E.D.U.P, a support group for others who’ve lost loved ones to gun violence.

She says this new program is worth a shot.

“I think at this point any viable solution, throw them in the air, see what sticks,” said Taylor. “Nobody thinks that it’s the defining solution, that it’s going to solve the problems. But everybody at this point is willing to see what will work.”

Youth mentor John English said city leaders are out of touch and no amount of money is worth someone’s life.

“You can’t give me $200, $300, $1,000, nor a million dollars to trade in for my life. You can’t give me $200 worth of groceries to give you my gun that protects me from criminals and protects me from gang members,” said English. “You can’t give me that. My life is not in trade for money.”

After the announcement Tuesday, Roanoke City Police Chief Sam Roman said the reward money could bring justice.

“Oftentimes, it is just that little small piece of information that makes the difference in a huge way for a case,” said Roman.

However, Taylor said to these offenders, it’s about street justice.

“I don’t think that people are necessarily motivated by money. I think it’s more of a culture of street justice. You know, like if you do something to me, I’m going to retaliate,” said Taylor. “And respect. Nobody wants to be labeled a snitch. So I don’t know that it’s the defining solution, but I don’t think it could hurt.”


About the Author:

Lindsey joined the WSLS 10 team as a reporter in February 2019 and is thrilled to call Roanoke her new home!