By Jacksonville Free Press
Nehemiah Assembly and Interfaith Coalition for Action, Reconciliation & Empowerment ICARE nonprofit recently hosted the largest grassroots assembly for important change and progress in protecting our city from crime, increasing trust and transparency in our criminal justice system, tackling violence and preparing our city to be more resilient to future flooding. ICARE is comprised of 38 congregations in Duval County that is now in its seventeenth year. Combined, their congregations represent more than 30,000 residents from a broad cross-section of the Jacksonville community.
The gathering addressed serious problems in our community and advocating for violence to end while reducing unnecessary arrest and preparation tactics for flooding. The nonprofits goal is to powerfully address citywide concerns related to issues of justice and fairness. “We are a direct action organization not a direct service organization. We use our collective people power to press our elected officials and other city leaders on county-wide solutions to the problems that plague our community: crime, the low graduation rate, homelessness, jobs and other community concerns,” said organizer Presiding Elder Tan Moss of the AME Church. ICARE’s vision is that as communities of faith gather together at least 52 times a year, at least once a year we can all come together to do justice. Every fall ICARE conducts a grassroots listening process that involves hundreds of citizens talking to one another in small house meetings. During the year trained committees of approximately 20 ICARE leaders research each problem to find winnable, evidence-based solutions. Their annual Nehemiah Action Assembly is held in the spring, where they engage elected and public officials to make commitments around the solutions to the problems. In addition to listening, research and implementation, ICARE follows-up and monitors outcomes. Although invited, Sheriff Mike Williams declined the invitation, while Mayor Curry was unavailable due to a prior commitment. Shown l-r are participates appealing to the community inside the host location Christ the King Catholic Church located in Arlington.