JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – At least eight people were hurt in six separate shootings over the weekend in Jacksonville.
The rash of violence is prompting a group of local pastors to call for city and local leaders to convene and form solutions mainly aimed at helping the city’s youth.
A group of pastors is now planning a special meeting which they’re working to schedule this week. They want the sheriff, school board members and other church leaders to attend.
The aim is to allow more young people access to not just jobs, but career paths.
“We’re pleading with the citizens of this community. We’re pleading with gang members, we’re pleading with gang leaders, please, let’s come to the table and sit down and reason together and come up with ways and means that we can stop the violence in our city,” said Darien Bolden, President of the Baptist Ministers Conference.
During a news briefing on Monday, Mayor Lenny Curry said more investment from the city’s government is needed.
“We have invested heavily in public safety over the years on the prevention and intervention but also on the enforcement side,” Curry said. “With technology and our state attorney with the sheriff and the sheriff’s office, and then with Cure Violence. We have expanded Cure Violence, we now have an additional location on the west side and they are actively being true. So while there has been progress in the murder rate this year, as long as there are murders happening, and as long as there are shootings happening, we are going to have to invest and be focused on that. We are doing what we can as a city to partner with law enforcement and make our city a safe place.”
A new program called “Rework” is being launched specifically targeting youth access to career opportunities.
Its organizer, Robert Lecount, lost his son to gun violence 18 years ago and said he wants to make sure other parents don’t suffer as he has.
The program provides participants aged 18-to-34 with job training and other resources in several career tracks.
“Give them an opportunity to find them or get them a good job, a living wage job, not just a job that pays but I live in ways job, or jobs that are boosts and starting them in their career,” said Lecount
Lecount said the program received a $225,000 grant from the city to begin operations.
He said work is underway now to launch the program which he hopes will be able to help at least 150 people at a time.
Meanwhile, there’s no set date for this planned conference on violent crime but the pastors say it’ll happen within the next week-and-a-half.