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Group forms to prevent future teen brawls

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Updated: 1/03 7:48 pm
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Extra patrols will be on hand at the River City Marketplace movie theater and the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office is working with community members to prevent violence.

The group bowed in prayer before a news conference Friday to address how the North Jacksonville community will try to prevent another incident like the Christmas Day brawl.

Sen. Audrey Gibson said it will take a collaborative effort to implement change.

"If we want to stop the school-to-prison pipeline, then our students and our parents have to understand that it is important that you know where your children are and what they're doing," said Gibson.

Derrick Phelps is a senior at Forest High School and said he came out to show support for the grassroots movement and distance himself from the brawl.

"This really doesn't represent us," says Phelps.

Dr. Johnny Gaffney, District 7 City Councilman agreed, saying, "What happened here at Hollywood Theater is not indicative of our community, not indicative of our children, or our culture."

Lead organizer and District 4 School Board member Paula Wright said the group came together to accomplish one goal, "to reach out, and begin to do something better, do something different so that we craft a plan for our youth and for our community, so that they have voice, hope, and they understand their value and our value."

JSO Director of Patrol and Enforcement Micheal Edwards said some changes will go into motion immediately.

"We'll be handing out pamphlets on the curfew law, explaining what that law is, what's the violation of that law, and what's the exception," said Edwards.

The grassroots organization put together a five-point "Say No To Disrespect" initiative detailing actions that will be taken to find the root cause of the issue and prevent it from happening again.

The plan includes promoting a new website set to launch next week, a listening tour to connect with teens, addressing the young adults involved who are not school aged, parental and community involvement, and interacting with officials to report on their findings.

Some teenagers are already on board with the plan.

"If one does right, we'll all do right. If I lead by example, more will come to follow," said Phelps.

JSO said it sees the new group as an extension of the sheriff's office.

"Additional eyes, additional ears, they see whats going on in this community and they can give us a call before something actually turns into a major incident," said Edwards.

Organizers say the plan will take a few months to fully implement, but they wanted to take action immediately to get the ball rolling in preventing another brawl.
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tlynn - 1/3/2014 10:24 PM
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I can tell you what it takes…"Parents" being involved in their children's lives, caring enough to say NO, and "teach your children well"…Thank you CSN…Crosby, Stills, and Nash…"Dr." Gaffney says that this is not indicative of the community, culture, of the children…But I would say…YES it is!!! We see this kind of behavior from this community TOO OFTEN! These young people have NOT been TAUGHT the meaning of RESPECT! Respect for themselves, for their community, for others, for Mother Nature! (litterbugs!) These "children" have had to raise themselves in a community of single "moms" and imprisoned, or just absent "dads". When will this community stand up to the challenge of living life decently! Living life respectfully! Living life the same way that the rest of us live it…By taking responsibility for yourself, and your situation, and working to improve it! Not depending on the rest of us, or the government, to do it for you! Get in the game of life. Take responsibility for yourself, and your children. And "Teach them Well"!!!
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