Florida pastors call for 30-day cease fire in Jacksonville amid gun violence

Pastor Darien Bolden of Baptist Ministers Conference says while "one shooting is too many," the rampant gun violence in the city "needs to stop."

Black pastors in Jacksonville, Florida are imploring their community to help bring gun violence to an end. 

There have been over 360 shootings in the city this year, and Pastor Darien Bolden says that while “one shooting is too many,” the rampant gun violence in the city “needs to stop.” 

Bolden is the president of Baptist Ministers Conference and, according to First Coast News, he and other members of the clergy have called for a 30-day ceasefire of shootings in the city, as well as a 30-day pause on the use of social media — particularly Facebook, which, they say, is being used to taunt and retaliate. 

Pastor Darien Bolden, president of the Baptist Ministers Conference, wants a 30-day ceasefire of shootings in Jacksonville, as well as a 30-day pause on the use of Facebook. (Photo: Screenshot/FirstCoastNews.com)

“We plea with the community, with the gang leaders, school principals and others to attend a Cease-Fire Reconciliation and Transformation Conference,” said Bolden, although the summit’s date has not yet been set.

Another area minister, Pastor Robert LeCount, stood with Bolden during their press event Monday and shared the story of the death of his son, who was killed in 2003 in a gun violence incident. “We’ve got people dying in our city,” said LeCount, “and they are not spending any of the money they’re getting to stop this violence in our city.” 

Another activist opined that local leaders had previously offered “Band-Aid” solutions to gun violence in the past. The clergy are imploring the city council to restore a now-defunct “Safer Together” committee. 

Activists rallied in Jacksonville earlier this week, calling for the committee to be reinstated. “No, no, don’t hesitate, reinstate!” they chanted outside City Hall, according to Brie Isom, a reporter who covered the rally. The committee — organized in 2020 to bridge the gap of trust and improve relationships between the police and the community in the wake of protests around the country following several high-profile police shootings that year — was removed last week by the city council. 

The group held workshops with the “goal of fostering constructive dialogue about the challenges, successes and opportunities available to us to make this a safer community for all our citizens,” per the City of Jacksonville website. 

Topics reportedly included discussions on community policing, policies, procedures and budgeting.

According to News4Jax, as of this summer, Jacksonville was the murder capital of Florida, although other crimes, including property crime, had declined. More than 80% of the murders in the state were committed using firearms.

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