Groups call for community, family involvement after recent crimes

Leaders disappointed seeing many young black men in news as victims, perpetrators

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Images that some find disappointing to see are faces of young black men as the perpetrators or victims of crime. Channel 4 has reported the names of several young black men who have been arrested for violence in the Jacksonville area recently.

Community leaders sounded off on the matter Thursday night. An Operation Save Our Sons leader said it's embarrassing.

"It really grieves me to turn on the TV and look and the news and see what's going on in our community, and see some many faces of our young black boys on the screens for senseless crimes," said Operation Save Our Sons mentor Scott Cotton.

The mentors said the community must get involved in order to change the problem.

Three young rape suspects, shootings and dead teens are some of the stories from this week. The stories this week have left Karen Thomas, minister and "Yes You" program director, embarrassed.

"We can say that the sad fact is that they are all black. It's unfortunate for our community as a whole, but the responsibility has to come from the home and the community," said Thomas.

It's an issue fellow ministers have addressed and continue to address. In a letter to State Attorney Angela Corey, local pastor Ken Adkins shared his concerns on an issue he said is hurting the community: black on black crime.

"I believe the serious and violent crime is so out of control among black juveniles that any pastors' efforts ought to be aimed at helping build stronger black families and providing another level of community policing with their congregations presence in neighborhood hot spots," said Adkins

Thomas is trying to do that with her mentoring program for Wayman Ministries by targeting communities where young people live in environments prone to crime and violence.

"We have to congregate together in order to teach our kids, particularly our black men the importance of becoming better citizens the importance of losing their lives over senseless crimes," said Thomas.

Operation Save Our Sons is trying to do the same thing with the 12 boys it mentors.

"If we can save one, we believe we can save a thousand, a million, but we have to start somewhere," said Cotton.

These leaders said more people in the community must get involved in order to curb this issue.

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