72ºF

Anti-crime group expands mission with JSO's help

Save Our Sons to get $15,000 in funding from Sheriff's Office

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Last week's spike in violent crime has many community leaders worried. They say a disturbing number of shootings in the city involve young black teens.

The group Save Our Sons aims to put a stop to violence before it starts. Next month, they're holding their annual week-long summit, and hundreds of teens are expected to attend.

Thursday, Save Our Sons announced it is now getting $15,000 in funding from the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.

With nearly 20 shootings last week, including a 16-year-old being shot and killed by police, Save Our Sons said the message it sends at the summit is more important now than ever. Leaders said they're also doing a few things differently this time. 

Pastor John Guns, founder of SOS, said shootings and violent crime are happening mostly with young black teens and men. He said it's happening at an alarming rate.

"Our young men are killing each other, at worst," Guns said. "They are hurting each other, at best."

With this in mind, Guns announced exciting news for this year's Save Our Sons Summit. For the time in its three-year existence, Save Our Sons is receiving funding through JSO. The donation will come from the department's forfeiture money.

Guns said the extra cash allows SOS to expand its s

They say violence is destroying their communities. They say black on black crimes are happening too frequently -- and now there's an effort to try and help young people in Jacksonville. The group Operation Save our Sons is announcing plans for "Save our Sons" week.
They say violence is destroying their communities. They say black on black crimes are happening too frequently -- and now there's an effort to try and help young people in Jacksonville. The group Operation Save our Sons is announcing plans for "Save our Sons" week.

ummit. This year, that expansion includes the jail. Leaders want to help young men rebuild their lives and join the workforce after they're released.

"Part of my goal is to partner these young men through a process with corporate America," Guns said. "Let's see if we can't get them in a corporate America job with a tie on and a suit. Let's change the climate of their lives." 

With the city's upcoming runoff election for both sheriff and mayor, Guns said his group isn't endorsing any candidate. What matters to him is their cooperation with the end goal.

Sheriff candidate Ken Jefferson, who attended Thursday's announcement, agreed. He said the time to start is when black men are young.

"Right now we have a lost generation," Jefferson said. "The bulk of crime that you're seeing right now in our city is a result of that lost generation."

Jefferson's runoff opponent, Mike Williams, said fighting crime is all about community involvement. 

"We as police officers need to reach out to the professionals to help us do that and the community leaders to help us do that," Williams said. "That's what that program does."

Operation Save Our Sons includes a week of events, beginning with Teacher Appreciation Day on April 19. There will be a 10:30 a.m. worship service at St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church on Winton Drive.

On April 20 at 7 p.m., SOS will host a community panel at Bethel Baptist Institutional Church on Bethel Baptist Street. They've invited representatives from the State Attorney's Office, Mayor's Office, JSO, Duval County Public Schools and other groups.

From 7-10 p.m. April 23, SOS will have its "Young Lives Matter" Charity Banquet at the Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront Hotel on East Coastline Drive. The black tie affair includes a silent auction and full-course dinner. Tickets are $100 per person or $700 for a table of eight.

The third annual SOS Summit will be April 24 from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. at Edward Waters College on Kings Road. Invited schools include A. Philip Randolph, Andrew Jackson, James Weldon Johnson, Raines, Ribault and Lee High School.

Dream Girls: A Career, Health and Safety Expo will be April 25 from 9:30 a.m.-2 p.m. at Ribault High School on Winton Drive.

The week ends with a Sonrise Service at 7 a.m. April 26 at Open Arms Christian Fellowship on Dunn Avenue.

For more information on any of the events, call 904-595-6105 or email saveoursonsjacksonville@gmail.com


About the Author: