Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Crime Summit: 'It's about the Kids'; Participants Want to Help Black Communities in Duval, Elsewhere

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Crime Summit: 'It's about the Kids'; Participants Want to Help Black Communities in Duval, Elsewhere

Article excerpt

Byline: JOSH SALMAN

Donald Foy never understood the extent of Jacksonville's crime problem until an aunt and two nephews were gunned down in 2002.

He blamed gang members. He blamed law enforcement. And he blamed local government.

Then he realized he needed to stop blaming others and take some initiative himself.

Foy created the Jacksonville division of Men Against Destruction Defending Against Drugs and Social Disorder, a national organization geared to reducing gang violence.

"I took it upon myself to make Jacksonville a better place to live," he said. "We need to break this code of silence we have in the community so the murderers and drug dealers can be removed."

Foy was one of about 1,000 people who made a commitment Thursday in Jacksonville to take back their communities during the 24th National Conference on Preventing Crime in the Black Community.

The conference, open to the public, encouraged action from residents and law enforcement in high-crime urban communities by showcasing techniques and prevention strategies that have proved successful in black neighborhoods.

The focus of Day 1 was on preventing crime and gang activities via youth programs.

"It's about the kids and how to ensure they never get involved" in crime, said state Attorney General Bill McCollum, who helped host the event. "There are a lot children in attendance here, and I think that says a lot. This is a problem that faces all of us."

HARD TIMES SPAWN CRIME

There are at least 1,500 gangs in Florida and about 100,000 people in the state prison system, with a disproportionate amount coming from the black community, McCollum said.

With the economy in a hard place, these numbers are on the rise.

To combat the increases, McCollum said, more cities need to take a stance on crime; he looked to the Jacksonville Journey program as an example. …

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