Men calling for peace on Jacksonville's streets

Jabar Gaffney, City Council member among men looking for solutions

By Jenese Harris - Reporter/anchor

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Standing side by side, fathers, brothers and friends gathered Tuesday afternoon at Edward Waters College to plead with the community to stop the violence that's killing so many of Jacksonville's teenagers and young adults.

The most recent victim was a 14-year-old boy shot and killed Monday night.

One week ago, four men ages 21 and under were shot shortly after leaving a birthday dinner at the St. Johns Town Center. Three of the four died.

Over the weekend, five people were shot at the Kings Ridge Apartments in less than 24 hours.

So far, police have not announced arrests in any of these shootings.

"We want to call an end to the violence," Terrence Jones said. "We want you to stop killing each other. You are gaining nothing. All you are doing is making it difficult for us to have fathers for children, husbands for wives. Your birthright is to lead."

Among the men in the group is former New England Patriots wide receiver Jabar Gaffney. Now retired after 11 years in the NFL, Gaffney wants to help the community where he grew up. 

Gaffney and the other men vowed that they will be in their communities to bring peace. The scheduled another meeting and made plans to reach out to parents.

A separate group on Tuesday descended on the lawn of the Duval County Courthouse chanting for an end to gun violence.

"This is an event for every single victim of gun violence," said Mia Cleary, a student leader fo March for Our Lives group.

PHOTOS: 7 children or young men killed in Jacksonville in 6 months

The Kings Ridge shootings took place in City Councilman Garrett Dennis' district. He said the city will need more than just police officers to stop the violence.

"We cannot police our way out of this," Dennis said. "Think about if. If JSO arrest someone, we have individuals that will step up and take their place, as it relates to crime, so we need prevention and intervention."

Dennis said City Council has already given the city funding for 100 police officers and agreed to overhaul the Jacksonville Children's Commission and Jacksonville Journey into one new, city-funded organization, the Kids Hope Alliance.

Dennis repeated what police frequently tell the community: It's important for parents to know who their children are with and where they are going.

The men released a call to action Thursday, asking men to give children they know without a father a special life experience for Father's Day this Sunday.

"Go to the park, movies, beach, out to eat or just hang out and talk. Just make sure you have FUN. Let’s make sure no child goes without a positive male influence in their life on Sunday, June 17, 2018. Send your pictures of your experience to #visionkeepersofnewtown and show the world how much you care about making a difference in your community. Please share on social media and your personal network. #bethatguy #beadadforaday #changeagent #mentoringisrewarding"

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