• Robert E. Lee High students lead discussion to stop crime

    By: Larry Spruill, Action News Jax


    Several local students are leading their classmates in a discussion into how to stop crime and create better relationships with police.

    Back in April, two Robert E. Lee High School students were invited to a national discussion in Washington D.C.

    The 15 young men are a part of a program called ‘EVAC.’ It’s about stepping out of the dark and into the light. They say that light is all about their new future ahead.

    “The odds are on us and against us,” said Alan McCullough.

    McCullough said that’s reality for the 15 young men inside their classroom at Robert. E. Lee High.

    “It’s real tough for African American young men, and that’s why we’re trying to make a change and turn our lives around,” said McCullough.

    It’s a shift, they are focused to make, despite some up close and personal obstacles.

    “My mom actually deceased right in front of me, my cousin died, he was murdered. I saw a lot of things,” said McCullough.

    The lives of everyone inside the classroom have been touched by crime and tragedy.

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    Out of the 15 students, 11 students have family members in jail, 12 of them say their immediate family members have been murdered. Twelve have been detained by police, five of them have been arrested, two have felonies, one has been shot and 10 saw someone get shot.

    “You hear the same things, so many times, you can’t even believe it," said Amy Donofrio.

    Donofrio said these alarming stats prompted her to start the program. She wanted to show them how to think positively before reacting to negative situations.

    This week, they met with JSO officers and other city officials on how to bridge the gap with the local community and police.

    De’Quan Jackson said the class is paying off. Recently, they were invited to a police-community roundtable at the White House.

    “Mainly, it was about police interaction with youth on the streets. It was about not stereotyping people, not judging people,” said De’Quan Jackson.

    They were invited back to the White House, that trip will take place in August. 

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