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Mental debriefing held for community affected by Jacksonville mass shooting goes wrong

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — City officials met with people in the New Town and Grand Park areas one week after the mass shooting at Dollar General. It was meant to help the community heal, but it didn’t go as planned.

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“I’m mad,” local pastor Dr. Stanley McAlister said outside the church. “This is what trauma looks like.”

While three innocent lives were taken in last week’s racially motivated mass shooting, an entire community is suffering, including Dr. Stanley McAlister.

“Healing cannot begin until you address what is hurt,” McAlister said.

So, City Councilwoman Ju’coby Pittman along with the mayor’s office organized an event at a Grand Park church to help the community restore hope.

“Last week, we were already angry,” Pittman said. “Today was a day about healing, and finding out how the community and neighborhood representatives could help heal this community.

But this meeting was overshadowed when McAlister and Denise Hunt were escorted out.

“I was hoping I would hear the truth, I was hoping to hear an apology,” Hunt said.

The two were upset that Governor Ron DeSantis appeared at last Sunday’s vigil,

Pittman at the time, quieted hecklers, telling them they should put political parties aside. But, Hunt was not happy about this.

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“This ain’t nothing but a black gatekeeper’s political show at the expense of people who are hurt,” Hunt said.

Pitman claims she didn’t invite the governor but welcomes the $1 million dollars the state is providing for security at Edward Waters University.

“And listen, I get it,” Pittman said. “I don’t I don’t support his policies and his ideology that hurt the black and brown community. But the idea that he came, you know, not invited, and offering resources that this community needs.”

As for McAlister, he says the Grand Park and Newtown neighborhoods have been suffering for years.

“I’m hurt and it shouldn’t have had to take somebody to come from another county and kill three people for everybody to show up,” McAlister said. “This is every day.”

The individuals who were escorted out want to recall Pittman.

But Pittman says she will not stop working to provide resources for the community. She adds on to say she is making legislation to help the victims with this tragedy.

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