Reverend tailors message to black teens on heels of trial

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A Jacksonville pastor who has spent time inside the courtroom during the Michael Dunn murder trial -- used the case as a basis for his Sunday message.

Senior Pastor John Guns called young people 21 and under to the front of St Paul's Missionary Baptist church.

"I think it was wrong. I think he should be convicted, but I ain't confident and that bothers me," Guns said about Michael Dunn shooting Jordan Davis.

Guns said that is because questions are being raised trying to make the victim, Jordan Davis, become the problem.

"Some people have labeled you before you even open your mouth," Guns told the boisterous crowd.

Guns is behind "save our Sons" -- a group designed to equip teenage males, particularly African-Americans -- with the life skills needed to be successful and productive.

RELATED: Local pastors have seats in the upcoming Michael Dunn trial

He said America can't handle dreads and baggy pants sometimes worn by black youths. It is an unfair perception, but one they have to deal with, Guns said.

"There is a perception that comes with it, so I need you to figure out that the most important thing for you is to get home. Sometimes you gotta walk away, " Guns said with sweat pouring down his face.

At one point Guns brought a young man on stage and pulled his hooded sweatshirt over his head.

"When you walk in the store take your hood off," he said as he pulled the hood off the boy's head. "Why? Because it is better to walk out the store. I am trying to get ya'll to understand you don't win if you die at 18! You only win if you die at 90."

RELATED: Save Our Sons turns attention to absentee fathers

Guns said his message might not resonate well with the crowd, but he asked them to not fight back with their fists, but with their brains. Tyree Kreefer got the message.

"Walk away, just walk away from any drama. Anything that can get you hurt, or killed, anything that can get you into a lot of trouble," Kreefer, a teen in attendance said.

"He loves these kids. I think it is a great message. Hopefully everyone understands what is going on," Jennifer Simpson, mother, said.

RELATED: Full coverage of the Michael Dunn Trial

Guns urged them to understand the value of respect, restraint and responsibility so they could walk in and out of every situation. Then in tears, a final plea.

" I need you guys to be smart. I have buried too many boys."

Today's message was streamed into 50-thousand homes across the country -- of those who were pre-registered with the program.


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