By Annette Gutierrez, Action News Jax
“I.C.A.R.E.”, a non-profit group made up of nearly 40 churches, hosted an event Monday night aimed at curbing the number of shootings in Jacksonville. The group said they’re focused on stopping gun violence.
Just today, two shootings resulted in at least one death. Faith leaders invited Jacksonville Sheriff T.K. Waters to come out to Christ the King Catholic Church, but he did not attend.
ICARE stands for — Interfaith Coalition for Action, Reconciliation, and Empowerment. It’s made up of a group of 38 congregations whose mission is to address concerns related to justice and fairness. In Monday’s meeting, leaders discussed issues ranging from adult civil citations, flooding, and mental health issues, but the main focus was gun violence.
“We want a program to dramatically stop the violence — the shootings must stop,” a man in attendance said.
ICARE Board Member, Geneva Pittman, believes something must be done.
“One life is too many, Pittman said at the meeting. “We need to get a hold on this.”
About two hundred people showed up, many agreeing safety is the number one concern.
“I’m tired of watching the news and all you hear is gunshots here and gunshots there,” Jacksonville resident Maryann Slicker said.
Action News Jax records show there have been 289 shootings in Jacksonville in 2023. This time last year there were 319 shootings.
Related Story: Gun violence is down in Jacksonville, the Sheriff credits proactive policing
“Families want to live in safe neighborhoods, they want to be safe in their homes,” James Boddie Jr., Co-President of ICARE said.
The shooting numbers make Slicker feel uneasy.
“You never know who’s going to be around the corner or what their intent would be.”
Faith leaders really wanted to address these issues with city officials and the sheriff. One solution proposed was a group violence intervention program, something the sheriff previously hasn’t agreed with.
While Sheriff T.K. Waters didn’t attend Monday night’s meeting, he was at a previous ICARE meeting back in April. The faith leaders plan to keep inviting Sheriff Waters to future events. They said they hoped to discuss the problems and find a solution.
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