Pastor addresses Dunn verdict during services

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Influential Pastor Bishop Rudolph McKissick Jr. used the verdict in the Michael Dunn murder trial to talk about the future of Jacksonville while addressing his congregation at Bethel Baptist Institutional Church downtown Sunday.

McKissick said changes need to be made for the better and he hopes he can help the church and the city lead the way.

The verdict in the Michael Dunn trial Saturday that resulted in a hung jury on the charge of first degree murder of Jordan Davis was on the minds of many attending services Sunday.

RELATED: Mistrial on first degree murder, guilty on 4 counts

Antoinette Harper, a mother of a young boy, was hurt and appalled by the verdict.

"It is Jordan's birthday today, and at the end of the day his parents still didn't get the justice for him that he needed," Harper said.

"It was a partial justice done here," Larry Branch said.

McKissick Jr. brought 18 teenage boys on stage with him after talking with them in his office.

"They've got to be respected and we have to teach them how to be respectful," McKissick said.

The pastor said the three verdicts of guilty of attempted murder, and a hung jury on the murder charge, were not a victory, but a sour victory.

"It sent a signal that all of us need to be aware of that our young black men are an endangered species," McKissick said to the crowd.

McKissick expressed his support for a retrial of Michael Dunn and said a retrial would send a message that no one can get away with killing boys.

"Laws have got to be changed, people have got to be voted out of office, who make the rules," McKissick said. He added that he doesn't support marching or inciting anger.

McKissick says all kinds of racism, black and white, and all kinds of violence need to be addressed. McKissick talked of black on black crime as well.

"We have got to deal with our guns, and our neighborhoods, with gangs, with us shooting each other. We just can't deal with one and not the other."

Ariyel Jackson, a 17-year-old high school senior hopes the community learns from this case.

"From now on, I hope people are more considerate of others. Something so small as this case has a big impact on our whole community," Jackson said.

"What I hope happens is that everybody be level minded, that revenge is not in the minds of the people of Jacksonville," Branch said.

"I am going to do everything I can to make sure we are a city that doesn't tolerate our differences, but celebrates our differences, appreciates our differences, and learn to live together in love," McKissick said as huge ovation rung from those in the pews.

Bishop McKissick said he will travel to Tallahassee on March 3 to meet with legislators to urge them to make changes in self-defense laws, laws he says lets people get away with murder.


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