JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Hours before a teenager who'd just graduated from Raines High School Monday night was shot and killed, Representative Angie Nixon and a group of eight mothers sent a letter to city leaders voicing their concerns about violence in Jacksonville.
According to Nixon, some of those mothers have lost children to gun violence. The letter was sent to Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry and City Council President Sam Newby.
"They [the mothers] wanted to do something," Nixon said. "They feel as though, unfortunately, the sheriff and the mayor have really been silent on this situation, and they need to come out and talk about it," she said.
The letter highlighted requests from the women, including asking city leaders to meet with families who've been impacted by gun violence quarterly or biannually. It also stated the women want leaders to establish a task force where people impacted by violence can work with officials on solutions by Aug. 30, 2022 and for leaders to analyze the effectiveness of the group Cure Violence.
Nixon said they want leaders to provide more funding to afterschool programs and summer camps for kids to attend to stay out of trouble, to establish a task force to recruit businesses to Northwest Jacksonville and the Westside by Sept. 20, 2022 and to start a city-wide education campaign on secure gun storage.
“I've recently had folks reach out to my office, parents who have reached out to the sheriff's office, who reached out to organizations, because they want to plug their child, who they know is on the cusp of some not so savory things, they want to help them right now. And there's, there's nothing for them. They either have to get in, you know, they have to get in trouble," Nixon said.
Beverly McClain is one of the mothers who signed on to the letter. Her son was killed in 2005.
"That pain is something else," McClain said. "I don't wish it on nobody," she said.
After his death, McClain started the nonprofit Families of Slain Children for others who've lost children.
"Sometimes the parent can't stand up for themselves and we have to stand up for them and be their voice," she said.
McClain said standing up for the families she supports is one of the main reasons she helped with the letter.
“There wasn’t no way around it. We have to stand up for each other," McClain said.
Haraka Carswell, the founder of the group Silent Women Speaking, also signed on to the letter.
"It took a village for my son because I could wake up this morning and get that same phone call, so I realize the village," Carswell said. "I realize the importance and that's why when Angie [Nixon] came to me, it was a yes because I want to help. I want to get involved," she said.
Both Carswell and McClain said they want to hear and see more from the sheriff and the mayor when it comes to violence in Jacksonville.
"It's so unfair that we have to watch the families grieve and no one's intervening and stepping up to say enough is enough, and sometimes that may have to come from my mayor, that may have to come from my sheriff because we are a village we are a community," Carswell said.
"If we just stay silent and you don't come forward and just ask what we need, it gives the families somewhat of you really don't care," Carswell said.
A spokesperson for the sheriff's office said Williams received the letter. He said the sheriff plans to speak with Nixon and the mothers to learn more about their ideas. First Coast News asked when that talk will take place and are waiting to hear back.
First Coast News is also waiting to hear back from the mayor and the city council president regarding the letter.
The mothers attended the city council meeting Tuesday night to voice their requests as well.