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Respect Yourself Crime Prevention Task Force meets to reduce gun violence and crime

Three young men stand behind a podium. One is speaking into a microphone while the other two look on. Everyone else in the photo is paying close attention.
Alejandro Santiago
Three young "character mentors" speak to the Respect Yourself Crime Prevention Task Force at the Bethel Family Life Center on Monday. Their job is to mentor and encourage the younger children in Bethel's after-school program.

The Bethel Missionary Baptist Church hosted a meeting of the Respect Yourself Crime Prevention Task Force on Monday. The program is aimed at fighting rising violent crime.

Curtis Taylor of the Urban League said gun violence in Tallahassee has become so dire, “there is no silver bullet.”

“This has become an epidemic,” Taylor said. “This is a real war out here. My own granddaughter last year was shot, and thanks to God she survived.”

Reverend R.B. Holmes, is the church’s pastor. He says part of the response is creating a positive association around mental health care.

“Just like you may have high blood pressure or whatever, you need a therapist or medication,” he said. “And so that’s going to be a tremendous takeaway from this task at the end of the day, addressing the mental health crisis in African American communities.”

Holmes introduced three “character mentors” — Gabriel Graham, Jayland Johnson and Caleb Parker — who work at the Bethel Christian Academy Respect Yourself After School Program. Their job is to set good examples for the younger children and encourage them to succeed.

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Margie Menzel covers local and state government for WFSU News. She has also worked at the News Service of Florida and Gannett News Service. She earned her B.A. in history at Vanderbilt University and her M.S. in journalism at Florida A&M University.