JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – One local group is tackling violent crime in Jacksonville using sports, and Saturday it took its first step toward making a difference.
The Siottis Jackson Foundation, along with several other community groups, organized the first Shoot Baskets, Not Brothers event. It's hoping to get young men off the streets and into sports, all in an effort to curb violence in the city.
Organizers are targeting the 32208 and 32209 zip codes on the Northside. They said those areas are ground zero for recruitment.
"They have easy access to the gangs or they are influenced a lot by the gangs," Siottis Jackson, the founder of the Siottis Jackson Foundation, said. "Most of the gangs reside within those zip codes so they can be easily influenced and they can easily become part of a gang."
Jackson said getting teens into something positive and productive can be the key to keeping them out of trouble.
"Most of them are scared to report it because it's their peers. But we have to make sure they understand what can happen," Jackson said.
Organizers said the most important part of the effort is following up after the event. They said several partners are planning on setting up future meetings.