COVID-19 forces Cure Violence group to make changes while working to reduce violence

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – There have been dozens of shootings in Jacksonville, the city just recorded its 101st homicide and summer isn’t even a month old.

But a national group, Cure Violence, has two local groups in the city in an attempt to maintain peace: Bridges to the Cure in Northwest Jacksonville and the Noah’s Ark Project on the city’s Eastside.

Paul Tutwiler, who manages the Northwest Jacksonville group, said COVID-19 has forced the group to make changes while trying to reduce violence.

“We are having to go through social distancing and approaching it through social media,” Tutwiler said.

A map shows the areas covered by Cure Violence, but violence is happening all over the city. Tutwiler said they saw crime happening in February and it hasn’t slowed

A map shows the areas covered by Cure Violence.
A map shows the areas covered by Cure Violence. (Special to WJXT)

“Now we have to deal with idleness and people being home and people being cramped -- different issues that are occurring, different issues than what we are normally accustomed to,” Tutwiler said.

On the Eastside, there is another zone for Cure Violence. Dana Miller, who owns a barbershop on A. Philip Randolph Boulevard and Pippin Street, is in the Noah’s Ark Project’s zone. The barbershop is located on the same corner where a drive-by shooting happened two weeks ago and a deadly shooting two years ago.

Miller turned his life around after serving 10 years in prison. Though he is not apart of Cure Violence, he is apart of the change to make the community better.

“When I got out of prison, I wanted to come back to my block, the neighborhood that I tore down to help build it back up,” said Miller.

He said he is saddened by the recent shootings in the city but believes young adults need more mentoring and opportunities in the community.

“The heart of man has to change. If a man’s heart doesn’t change, there will be no change,” Miller said.

These communities are trying to find multiple solutions to combat devastating violence that impacts everyone.

News4Jax has also reached out to the director for Cure Violence regarding the effective rate during the coronavirus pandemic and when the program will expand to a third location.

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