More than 100 people in Jacksonville’s faith community are coming together to call on residents, businesses, and public officials to put a stop the growing violence.
Jacksonville City Councilman Reginald Gaffney, who represents the 7th District, organized the “Day of Healing” Thursday at the City Hall, in an effort to bring attention to the city’s high murder rate.
This year, there’s been about one death every two days in Jacksonville.
“Everytime I see a death or somebody get shot, I see so many families hurting, so I said let me do a day of healing. And I came to realize, even as I talked to a lot of family members [who ask] ‘Councilman Gaffney what’s your solution?’” he said. “I want to heal Jacksonville, I want to bring Jacksonville together.”
According to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, 27 have been murdered this year. And that’s not including the homicides JSO still has yet to classify.
Gaffney did not speak throughout the hour-long event, but instead he listened to the hymns, poems, and prayers from local faith leaders and members.
“The only way I know how to fight crime is through my Lord and Savior,” said Gaffney. “And that’s why I did it my way today.”
While the “Day of Healing” largely attracted people in the faith community, event co-organizer Sirretta Williams said her goal was to bring together people of all backgrounds.
“We both love god and we were just saying that our city needed to heal. And how do we do that? We come together and bring every genre and nationality of people to try to bring closeness. And the only way that we’re going to solve crime is that we all be one accord and know what’s going on, so we can bring trust and hope back to the people,” she said.
The “Day of Healing” comes less than two weeks after Democrats Sen. Audrey Gibson and Rep. Tracie Davis said it was time to declare a state of emergency, in response to a string of shootings that left six dead in four days.
The two lawmakers are recommending a city-wide curfew of 10 p.m. and want to request help from the Florida Highway Patrol. They also say calling in the National Guard is not out of the question.
According to analysis done by our Florida Times-Union news partner, Jacksonville has some of the worst zip codes in Florida for violent crime, making the city the murder capital of Florida compared to other urban counties.
Gaffney said people need to stop with the finger pointing.
“So lots of time we blame the police, we blame the mayor, we blame politicians, or we may blame each other.” he said. “But it’s not about bringing everybody together.”
Organizers hope to have “A Day of Healing” once about every three months.