Community leaders want big changes ahead of the new year to help stop the violence

2019: A violent year

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — There are a few days left in the year and we continue to report on more killings happening throughout the city.

Thursday, one local community group sent out a letter calling for changes in the new year to help curb the violence.

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According to JSO’s transparency page, there have been 126 murders in 2019; that’s not including several shootings that have happened in the past 72 hours.

Ben Frazier, who heads the Northside Coalition, is one of the community members asking city leaders to take a more hands on approach to end the violence.

“We want that to come to an end, We think the people should start talking it out and they should stop shooting it out,” Frazier said.

Frazier said they’ve designated five areas they think city leaders should focus on to minimize violence in 2019. He believes having an open and uncomfortable conversation with people in the community is where they should start.

“One of those things is, of course, the call for a series of town hall meetings that would be conducted by the mayor and the sheriff at different locations in Duval County,” Frazier said.

Another item on the list involved fining people who report stolen guns from unlocked vehicles.

“We’ve got to do something for their memory. We’ve got to jog them to help them understand that they are putting so many of us in jeopardy by leaving weapons in unlocked cars,” Frazier said.

At last check there were close to 300 guns stolen, and around 90 percent of those came from unlocked cars.

“This is ridiculous. Lock your car if you’ve got a gun in there. People who are, in fact, jeopardizing the lives of innocent men, women and children by shooting randomly in public areas, that’s ridiculous,” Frazier said.

They also believe publicly promoting the message to stop the violence could have some impact.

“We need to see it on buses, benches, we need to see billboards, we need to see public service announcements,” Frazier said.

Lastly, the coalition asks everyone who has a gun legally and illegally to stop the killings. They want city leaders to acknowledge what they believe to be the root of the gun violence issue while trying to change it.

“There needs to be an honest recognition and acknowledgment that there is, in fact, a direct connection and inextricable link, if you will, between poverty, unemployment, economic degradation and gun violence. We need to admit that.," Frazier said.

The total number of murders and guns stolen will be recalculated at the end of the year and the new statistics will be made public in January of 2020.