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Community Seeks Solutions To Gun And Gang Violence

Bill Proctor standing in dark suit and striped tie

Violence in Tallahassee neighborhoods is a continuing problem. Two community leaders, Leon County Commissioner Bill Proctor and Reverend Stanley Sims, discussed the issues Thursday on WFSU’s Perspectives program.

Leon County Commissioner Bill Proctor says the community is taking a stand to end gun and gang violence in Tallahassee. A recent forum at Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church drew hundreds, and Proctor says that’s a sign of frustration.

“It says that the community’s alarmed. And they’re coming together out of need, out of frustration. We printed only 250 programs, and we printed 250 thinking we’d be around that number. And the people came out. There’s a lot on their hearts.”

Three recent shootings raised alarms for local government and law enforcement officials. That prompted the city to unveil “Operation Safe Neighborhoods.” It puts more police officers on the streets, adds activities for youth, and begins neighborhood crime watch programs for select communities.

Stanley Sims, a reverend at A Shepherd’s Hand Rescue Center, is trying a different method. He goes out into the streets of Tallahassee trying to steer young men away from gun violence, and instead steer them toward jobs.

“You know what they tell me? ‘Reverend, my mama worked two jobs and our car just got repo’d.’ So it’s an economic oppression—the failure to not raise minimum wage. It is a crying shame if you are working a full time job and can’t live decently. So what is it if you’re working two?”

Sims believes some of the violence stems from desperate youth trying to support their parents. The hurt, he explains, has been in the community for a very long time. He says it’s up to community leaders to heal it.