Pine Hills community meeting aims to find solutions to stop violence
PINE HILLS, Fla. - The Pine Hills community is coming together, working on solutions to stop gun violence through a Thursday evening meeting.
One thing that stood out about the meeting is how many people there had lost loved ones. This was deeply personal to everyone there.
The theme of the meeting was "Where Do We Go From Here?"
Where does the community go after a shooting in Pine Hills last week killed three and injured two, and after a third sexual assault at a Pine Hills bus stop this week?
Sandra Fatmi-Hall is the President of the Pine Hills Community Council and hosted the meeting.
"It’s about next steps. This is happening way too often. Way too often. It’s just escalating. There’s an uptick. So if we don’t take our community back, then we’ll be taken over, and we can’t have that," said Fatmi-Hall.
Candy Washington is one of the people who spoke out at the meeting. Her daughter Cashmere was gunned down in her car on the corner of John Young Parkway and Lee Road.
"Our Sheriff’s Department, our police force, they’re doing all they can, so we as a community need to step up to the plate and relieve some of this violence that’s happening in our community," Washington told FOX 35. "We want to do what we can do to make sure it doesn’t keep happening to other mothers and other children."
A Sheriff’s deputy talked about local youth programs that focus on social-emotional learning and scholastics.
A mental health counselor advocated for early intervention.
A representative with the State Attorney’s Office talked about changing the juvenile justice system.
One woman said she wants more cameras in the streets, another talked about coming together as a community.
Devon Rashon also spoke up. He and others said they want more support for families, helping parents understand how to help their own kids.
"There’s things that have been happening with the young people and it’s going to be their kids, their kids. Not everything is going to be solved with programs, some of this starts in the home. So we have to get into the home and start helping these families," said Rashon.
State Representative LaVon Bracy Davis brought up the meeting that she’s filed a bill to provide parenting classes for those struggling.
And State Senator Geraldine Thompson is focusing on getting guns off the streets.
"Yes, there are mental health problems, but a person who has a mental imbalance and doesn’t have a gun doesn’t have the opportunity to do what we saw done here in Pine Hills," said State Senator Thompson, a Democrat representing Florida’s 15th District.
Rashon said he agreed with much of what the State Senator said.
"Help the younger folks, but also help their parents," Rashon proposed. "Teach their parents to unlearn what their parents taught then, so they can teach their kids to unlearn what their grandparents taught them, so when their kids have kids, they can teach them. And it’s a whole new generation, you’re breaking that cycle."
The lawmakers who were there said they plan to take all this to Tallahassee. Local representatives are planning discussions with the Mayor and the Sheriff.
"When you listen to our Sheriff’s Office and they give you the numbers, they’ll tell you the numbers reflect that crime is down. But then we’re seeing the activity that’s being covered. This is what’s taking place. It’s not made-up news or made-up stories, these are actually things that are happening. We may be down year-to-date, but things are upticking," added Fatmi-Hall.