'Boots on the Ground' tries to stem tide of violence

Northside Coalition of Jacksonville focuses on 32209 ZIP code

By Brittany Muller - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - An advocacy group determined to “stop the violence and increase the peace" walked some of  Jacksonville's most troubled neighborhoods Saturday.

About a dozen members and supporters of the Northside Coalition left the Clanzel Brown Community Center in Moncrief, walking as a group, knocking on doors and speaking with neighbors.

The group began its boots on the ground campaign six months ago in the 32209 ZIP code -- the part of town where the most murders have occurred for the past few years. Northside Coalition President Ben Frazier said the group has reached 2,000 households.

"It’s time for this neighborhood to be turned around," Frazier said. "It’s necessary for us to have a clear line of communication with the people that we claim to be advocating for."

People in the community said they are primarily concerned about economics, jobs, social injustice and their relationship with law enforcement.

One 19-year-old resident said he is all too familiar with the sound of gunshots but doesn't see much else happening in his community.

"People getting shot and getting robbed, and that’s the main problem," the young man said. "I don’t see too much of anything else -- jobs or education."

Frazier said attitudes about these neighborhoods must change.

"We’ve got to do something to help these people," Frazier said. "They’re crying out for help. The question is, will the city of Jacksonville listen and act on their concerns?"

Frazier said that while much more needs to be done in Moncrief, the group's campaign will be expanding to the Eastside, as well.

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