Church marches to rally Jacksonville against violence, drugs


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Greater Moncrief Missionary Baptist Church organized a march Friday night to unite the city after a recent surge in violence.

Dozens participated in the Northwest Jacksonville march, which was the 19th for the church and drew several groups, including the Jacksonville chapter of MAD DADS.

Organizers said they really want to reach young people, but their hope is to impact people of all ages. It was a march against drugs and violence. They said it's time to see change in Jacksonville.

"We want to see the murdering stop," said Rev. Quovavis Thomas of Greater Moncrief Baptist.

With that goal in mind and their voices and spirits high, dozens of men, women, and children from groups and ministries all over the area walked several blocks along Moncrief Road on Friday night chanting, "Save our children." Their hope is to inspire a change in the community, especially for young people.

"See us marching. See us doing something positive," Thomas said. "Trying to bring light back into our community because it's so dark, because of all the violence in our city."

The march came one day after and took place 3 miles from the site of Jacksonville's latest shooting.

Police said two men were shot as they sat inside a car at a liquor store drive-thru on Soutel Drive. One of the men is now in critical condition.

Police said more than 20 shootings have occurred this month alone.

Bessie Walker, a member of Greater Moncrief Baptist, said to curb the violence, parents must talk to their kids about it and encourage them to resist it.

"The mind is a terrible thing to waste," Walker said. "So by educating them and getting them involved, they know the importance of having a community that is safe and vibrant."

Those marching said they won't rest until they see results, no matter how long it takes.

"As long as there is life, there is hope," said march participant Sinatra C. Thomas. "We believe that our voice is being heard out in the community. Again, if only one person is helped, we've done a whole lot."

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