JACKSONVILLE, Fl. -- A massive brawl has sparked a serious conversation about youth violence in Jacksonville. Monday night about 40 people gathered at a local church to hear from teens about how to address this daunting problem. They filled the pews of St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church on the Northside.
The meeting comes on the heels of the launch of a campaign called "Say No To Disrespect," organized by Northside leaders. It's another step organizers say is hopefully in the right direction.
Walking up to the box office at the Regal River City Marketplace Stadium 14, you'll see a message posted in several places.
A new adult accompaniment policy took effect two days after police say a group of juveniles and young adults tried to force their way into a movie on Christmas night. In the theater parking lot fighting erupted escalating to involve about 600 young people. Five teens were arrested.
The melee has led to a community frustrated, now looking for a resolve to what some say is an on-going problem.
"This is not isolated to one part of the city, it's everywhere," said Bradford Hall, a concerned resident. "We saw this at Jacksonville Beach, Lem Turner, River City. We want to get everyone to understand it's a Jacksonville issue."
Inside of St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church, parents, students and community leaders spoke out in a town-hall style meeting.
Some stressed enforcement, hoping the new signs and posters plastered throughout the theater will be respected. It says movie-goers under 17 must be accompanied by an adult after 8 p.m.
"I'm hoping that since this has come up again that they enforce that," said Donteacia Seymore, who helped to organize Monday night's meeting.
Parents say the city's curfew needs to be enforced, which says kids under 18 need to be at home by 11p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and midnight on Friday and Saturday. They're hopeful enforcement of the rules, and more community involvement will help to avoid violent scenes like the one that erupted on Christmas night.
Seymore says they'll compile a report of the concerns mentioned at the meeting and present it to elected officials. There is another town-hall style meeting planned for the coming weeks ahead.