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“We all need this”: City Commission discusses hopes and expectations for their upcoming Gun Violence Summit

City Commissioner Desmon Duncan-Walker speaks at the August 3 City Commission meeting

BY JENNIFER CABRERA

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Yvette Carter, Government Affairs and Community Relations Director, and Jennifer Smart, Communications Director, gave a presentation at the August 3 Gainesville City Commission meeting to provide commissioners with an overview of what to expect at this weekend’s Gun Violence Summit.

The presentation highlighted the 154 shooting incidents and seven homicides (not including the two that happened last weekend) in the city limits between July 1, 2022, and July 1, 2023. 

“Choose Peace – Gun Violence Must Cease”

The Summit, which has been titled “Choose Peace – Gun Violence Must Cease,” will be held this Sunday and Monday at the Hilton University of Florida Conference Center and was funded with part of the City’s American Rescue Plan Act allocation. 

Sunday is “Community Day,” anchored by Gainesville City Commissioner Desmon Duncan-Walker; the program begins at 2:00 and includes a panel discussion at 2:30, breakout sessions at 4:30, a Youth Town Hall at 6, and a reception from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Registration is not required for the Youth Town Hall, which will examine the role of music and the choices that young people make; registration for the rest of Sunday’s events is sold out.

Monday is “Policy Day,” anchored by Gainesville Mayor Harvey Ward; it will cover prevention strategies and support services and programs; the event is targeted at elected officials, education professionals, healthcare professionals, public safety, justice system professionals, and the business community. The breakout discussions will be guided by the CDC’s Social Ecological Model. The program will operate as a workshop, and the public is welcome to observe. The keynote address at lunch will be given by Ariel Cathcart from Everytown for Gun Safety. 

The program for the event can be found here.

Carter said the objectives of the Summit are to enhance communication, improve leveraging of resources, and centralize data collection. The City’s goal is to “develop a framework that holds us all accountable as we move forward in the search for solutions.”

“It’s coming to a neighborhood near you”

After the presentation, Duncan-Walker thanked staff for their work and said, “What I hope to leave this Summit with… is a community that is empowered and chomping at the bit to help create the infrastructure that is needed to do this work. How we sustain this is the question.” Duncan-Walker also said she was looking forward to the City Commission’s joint meeting with the Alachua County Commission on August 28 to discuss the County’s upcoming vote on declaring gun violence a public health crisis. 

Duncan-Walker said the Summit will also be a “great data collection effort. In those two days, we will get a lot. How we harvest that, where we house that, how we make that accessible to the community is going to be really, really important.”

She continued, “For anyone who is watching, please come out. Because this is a public health crisis. And that means all hands on deck. Everybody, we cannot do this without you, don’t want to do this without you. So please come, whether you have been impacted by it or not. The scary thing is, if you haven’t, you will be. It’s coming to a neighborhood near you. That is how rampant this is.”

Shooting incidents by City district

Carter showed a slide on the overhead that broke out shooting incidents by City district:

“I intend to altar-call all the institutional partners at 4:30 on day two”

Commissioner Casey Willits asked whether a plan will come out of the Summit, and City Manager Cynthia Curry said that will be in the “Next Steps” part at 4:30 on the second day: “That’s where we will at least start the conversation. We need a part two, we need a convener, we need a clearinghouse of data… We’ll have some time on day two… but I think the larger conversation will probably occur at the joint meeting with the City and the County.”

Ward said, “I intend to altar-call all the institutional partners at 4:30 on day two.”

Duncan-Walker said, “We all need this. We have to be able to sleep at night, knowing that we are moving in the right direction. Are we gonna get some things wrong? For sure. We might make some missteps. No one has gotten this right. The truth is, this isn’t a new issue. This is old. Gun violence is old. It’s just changed. The perpetrators and the victims are younger. And that’s really scary. That’s why for me it was so important to do a Youth Town Hall. I believe, in a lot of ways, the children are going to lead us, but we have to give them the opportunity to do that.”

Ward said, “I think this is going to be an event, a kickoff, so to speak, that we can all be very proud of. It is not a solution. It is how we begin to create a solution. I also want to say that there are folks working on the solution and have been working on the solution, never stop working on the solution, in the community every day, going back decades. You know, our police, our Sheriff’s Office, the Black-on-Black Crime Task Force has been working for decades, there have been folks really honestly daily engaged in trying to stop us from getting to this point for a very long time.”

He added, “Part of my intent is to spread the mantle of responsibility across all 270,000 people in the county, including the 145,000 of us in the city of Gainesville, because everybody has a piece of this, everybody. And it’s time to take it off the shoulders of just police officers and just a dedicated small group of people outside of the police force and bring it on to the entire community. That is my hope for this.”

  • "the Black-on-Black Crime Task Force has been working for decades"
    Well….it should be stated otherwise. Like…the Black-on-Black Task Force has NOT been working for decades. There….now I fixed it.

  • "He added, “Part of my intent is to spread the mantle of responsibility across all 270,000 people in the county, including the 145,000 of us in the city of Gainesville, because everybody has a piece of this, everybody." ABSOLUTELY NOT, HARVEY! It’s the responsibility of the "parents" and their bureaucratic co-conspirators who raise and unleash the soulless, conscience-free shooters on the public. Any way you can retro-fit responsible fathers on them? That would help a lot.

    • I am NOT responsible for what other violent people do. We already pay high taxes to support these low life criminals.

    • I’d never have gotten rid of the police helicopters, the open container laws, or the police dogs. Own your stupidity and incompetence, Harvey.

  • Why are they calling it a summit? Trying to make themselves sound more important than they are. Typical democrats. They need stop hindering the police and let them do their job and stop pandering to the criminals.

    • It’s a shame that in their quest to reach the top of the summit they push and crawl over the backs of everyone else.
      I guess some people enjoy being trampled.

      • Nice red herring. The fact is, gun control worked and lives were saved.

        • Your right the best gun control is being able to hit what you shoot at gun laws only effects law abiding citizens if these criminals would follow the laws we would not have all the shootings we have so keep posting your BS

      • Yeah, guns and freedom are overall more important than a few thugs killing each other with guns instead of knives or Molotov cocktails or whatever. People die from paper cuts that get infected – not my problem, either. Australia has had tons of home invasions (with illegal guns – golly!) since that video was made 10+ years ago. And the Australian government treating the people like cattle during Covid shows why guns are important. A bunch of tards getting together and saying “Imagine if we had real gun control! IMAGINE!” is about what I expect.

    • We are not giving up our legally purchased weapons for you or anyone else!

  • Once again the city commission has found a way to waste tax payers money. A ‘summit’ they call it.
    Chitter-chatter, break out sessions. And the best part, a reception at the end. Free alcohol for everyone!
    Like another writer so perfectly put it, just a way to make themselves feel and look important.
    Not a d@#$ thing will come of this waste of money. Bangers gonna bang folks.

  • People hope not to get shot.
    What people need are Kevlar vests.
    And leadership who can fill a thimble with common sense.

  • What a joke! These stupid politicians think they can talk gun violence away. The only answer is filling the 50 or so empty police officer positions on the police department, doing the same thing with the large number of empty positions in the sheriff’s department, increasing real law enforcement and having prosecutors and judges who will hold people who commit crime(s) responsible, with longer prison sentences. Mark my words, these people are going to come up with all kinds of programs like midnight basketball to fight this problem.

    • The US has the highest incarceration rates among developed countries and the highest murder and gun death rates. Your idea isn’t working.

      • Also have the highest number of single parent households. I guess that’s not working either.

      • If we remove your cities: Chicago, New York City, Los Angeles, Baltimore ,Detroit , New Orleans , Memphis and St . Louis the US ranking drops by 97%. What on earth could the lets go brandon common denominator be? Oh, Democrat Control. Capeesh?

        • Red states have higher rates of gun deaths than blue states and most gun rules are set by states. Of course without borders between states and cities, we need federal laws to be effective, and most Americans favor increasing them.

          “A Third Way report found that between 2000 and 2020, Trump-voting states had 12% higher murder rates than did Biden-voting cities

          Data shows that in 2020, eight of the ten states with the highest murder rates voted for the Republican presidential nominee in every election in this century….

          According to data from the CDC, these are the states with the highest firearm mortality rates per 100,000 in 2021:

          đź”´Mississippi had a firearm mortality rate of 33.9, making it the state with the highest rate in 2021. The state also used its electoral votes to vote for then President Trump in the 2020 election.
          đź”´Louisiana had a firearm mortality rate of 29.1 and voted for Trump.
          🔵New Mexico had a firearm mortality rate of 27.8 and voted for President Biden.
          đź”´Alabama had a firearm mortality rate of 26.4 and voted for Trump.
          đź”´Wyoming had a firearm mortality rate of 26.1 and voted for Trump.
          đź”´Alaska had a firearm mortality rate of 25.2 and voted for Trump.
          đź”´Montana had a firearm mortality rate of 25.1 and voted for Trump.
          đź”´Arkansas had a firearm mortality rate of 23.3 and voted for Trump.
          đź”´Missouri had a firearm mortality rate of 23.2 and voted for Trump.
          đź”´Tennessee had a firearm mortality rate of 22.8 and voted for Trump.
          đź”´South Carolina had a firearm mortality rate of 22.4 and voted for Trump.
          đź”´Oklahoma had a firearm mortality rate of 21.2 and voted for Trump.
          🔵Georgia had a firearm mortality rate of 20.3 and voted for Biden.
          🔵Nevada had a firearm mortality rate of 19.8 and voted for Biden.
          đź”´Indiana had a firearm mortality rate of 18.4 and voted for Trump.
          STATES WITH THE LOWEST GUN DEATH RATES
          🔵Massachusetts has a firearm mortality rate of 3.4 and voted for Biden.
          🔵Hawaii has a firearm mortality rate of 4.8 and voted for Biden.
          🔵New Jersey has a firearm mortality rate of 5.2 and voted for Biden.
          🔵New York has a firearm mortality rate of 5.4 and voted for Biden.
          🔵Rhode Island has a firearm mortality rate of 5.6 and voted for Biden.
          🔵Connecticut has a firearm mortality rate of 6.7 and voted for Biden.
          🔵New Hampshire has a firearm mortality rate of 8.3 and voted for Biden.
          🔵California has a firearm mortality rate of 9.0 and voted for Biden.
          🔵Minnesota has a firearm mortality rate of 10.0 and voted for Biden.
          đź”´Nebraska has a firearm mortality rate of 10.3 and voted for Trump.
          đź”´Iowa has a firearm mortality rate of 11.2 and voted for Trump.
          🔵Washington has a firearm mortality rate of 11.2 and voted for Biden.
          🔵Vermont has a firearm mortality rate of 11.9 and voted for Biden.
          🔵Maine has a firearm mortality rate of 12.6 and voted for Biden.
          🔵Wisconsin has a firearm mortality rate of 13.5 and voted for Biden.

          • I believe there was a city breakdown as well. We’ve seen how many blue cities choose to ignore red state governing legislatures. Enlighten us.

          • Proves you leftists should move to blue states. Florida turned darker red in the last election!

          • The numbers you are stating do not reflect actual violent murders. These are numbers that are combined from the CDC and given to public by bias media outlets to provide DISINFORMATION. Yes that ugly word that the left loves to through. The comments being put out from this so called summit by these idiot city officials sounds more like a Harris “Word Salad.”

          • Jazzman….a number without a unit is meaningless. What do these numbers represent? Please clarify.

  • Hollywood violence for decades, and now music videos and violent video games have polluted our culture and souls of our youth. Going back to silent movies and the first talkies, when gangster flicks glamorized bad culture and crime. Snowballed in other entertainment ever since. Mainstream today.

  • I wonder if the NRA, GOA, or other pro 2A organization is going to be there representing the lawful and legal use of firearms…looks one sided. lets face it 150 deaths in one year is of little consequence in light 3000 people dies every day from heart disease.

  • Repeal the open container and drinking ordinance the City Commission gave birth to . Double the K9 Force and allow law enforcement to do its job. Hold the Mayor and Minions personably liable for late night crimes clearly associated with his agenda. Are they that ignorant ? The State is watching and their audit on this groups lack of lawlessness is going to required.

  • They should’ve discuss this in the low income areas…. Like the east side or Gainesville.
    Also should teach them how to use protection… Maybe it will lower the std and raise the age of girls having kids…….

    Also need to do the basic like reaching drivers Ed….. The amount of people not using turn signals, running stop signs etc is out of control on the ghetto side of Gainesville… The east side.

  • First thing increase GPD budget start the K-9 unit back up hire more officers let them do their job don’t interfere with them stop allowing alcohol outside of bars have a curfew of 1am

  • Here is an idea. Keep the all night drinking ordinances, but move it geographically. Move it per city block to the red areas on ya’ll s gun violence map above. Let’s allow ASO & GPD implement old school tactics like in the Vietnam war. Like the old Search and Destroy missions. Turn the body and dash cameras in the cruisers off, ease up on all this corporate horse s$&#, and allow our boys in blue to do their jobs.
    It’s nothing more than chemistry in the human brain that evoke emotions for the wounded or the dead.
    So what if a white police officer is put into a position to gun down a young black man holding a loaded gun pointed at him or her. That’s their job. When that young black man picked up that gun, that’s the chance he takes.
    Also, prosecution needs a bit of overhauling too. All these possession of firearms and Ammo by previous convicted felons get ROR and Ankle Monitors. Why? Is the jail really that full? Is the states case loads really that high? Why did state legislature lobby for these penalties, yet local prosecutors don’t implement them? Are Florida’s prisons to overcrowded? Or maybe the DOC is running “inhumane” conditions in our prisons.
    Oh! That’s right. They got soft on gun violence laws.
    Awww,,,,
    Have to have empathy, care, and concern for the poor,,, and the uneducated who picked up a loaded gun and used it. Right…. They just didn’t know any better. Awww. Let’s give that guy probation,,,, Poor thing.
    Show less emotion for these crimes. Empathy on the side of the uneducated gun weilding criminals, is not going to change nothing. Empathy in the courts, on the side of these criminals is only going to perpetuate the problem.
    Let WCJB show some body counts like in Vietnam, and watch the gun violence practically disappear in Alachua county.

  • It’s my opinion that sometimes, our officials in uniform need to be allowed to “Break the law” in order to obey the law. That would at least curb some of the gun violence in our county. I say that only because all the corporate horse s&$# has hinderd our uniformed officers abilities to protect and serve the public.

  • Of course Michael Bloomberg’s Everytown is invited. List one city they were able to help. All they do is work to disarm the law-abiding so they can’t protect themselves like Bloomberg can.

      • Both governed at a local level by Democrat mayors. They must be like our locally elected leaders – always trying to circumvent state legislation.

      • So… Jazz”man”… what’s your solution to the LOCAL gun violence, other than to wring your hands and quote statistics?

        How about bringing back the open container law, getting our GPD police helicopters back in service, reinstating all police dog programs, and looking to hire some outside law enforcement talent to breathe new life into our voodoo zombie of a police police department?

        • I’m with you on open container, but DK the effectiveness of either helicopters or police dogs on gun violence. I don’t oppose them.

  • Gun deaths are most numerous in places with ……. well, damn, this can’t be right! ……. more guns and in red states. It is the leading cause of death among children. And people like tghose who dominate this site can’t seem to make their system – more guns – work. Problem is, with guns everywhere, they are cheap to own, are frequently stolen, and are sold illegally and/or without background checks all over the US.

    Most Americans – including Republicans – want more gun control, not less, so that tells us what crackpots most of you posting here are – as if you belong to a militia – not unless you answer to Congress and the President, and you don’t – and are a declining minority

    • You typed a good point, I must agree. All of us still “alive, and living life decently”, with a decent moral compass, and empathy, are Alachua County’s declining minority. You are exactly right.

    • So you would rather not do anything – no police helicopters, no police dogs, no open container law, no new chief or other leadership from outside counties with proven track records? Instead, you want to talk about taking everybody’s guns away, like Poe in the video, and use the dead bodies piling up as an excuse for that?

    • See the above…

      As far as gun control, there’s already laws in place. Maybe you can get the criminals to obey them…your leaders can’t seem to do much in that regard.

    • Memphis is a blue dump in a red state! That’s a blue dump problem!
      We might be a declining minority but you in the majority do not have what it takes to disarm us!

        • Not my problem! That garbage happens in cities. I don’t live in nor will I live in a democrat ruined city!

    • Blah, Blah, Blah! SSDD! Throw some crap on the wall and see what sticks! Typical Alachua County/GNV local politician speak!

      Lawful gun owners aren’t the problem, but you (and all Democrats) choose to ignore that as you work to disarm them!

      You follow the Democratic theory that if a thug, rioter, or simple thief, takes something from a law abiding citizen, then they probably needed it and should not be pursued by police or subjected to any laws!

      • Criminals get their guns from illegal purchases which are too easy to pull off under present laws, as well as guns stolen from legal owners. They are dirt cheap because there are so many of them and that’s why teenagers own them.

        Supply and demand.

        • So punish the good for the actions of the bad? Must have sucked to have been a child of yours – if you had any.

        • Hardly a week goes by without the Chronicle reporting that an ex-con with a violent record has effectively avoided any repercussions for carrying a gun by our local SAO.

          So perhaps we should start by enforcing the laws that are already on the books.

          And while it is tragedy that we have such a high incarceration rate, a person who is behind bars has very limited ability to further victimize innocent people in our community.

    • We are not giving them up. You all are wasting your time, we don’t trust you or the government! You have no authority and never will.
      Don’t even go there with the military stupidity, they wouldn’t listen to that idiot soiling the White House.
      You can move to a commie country or a blue state that will happily restrict your rights!

  • The other side of this coin is this.
    When these shootings happen, and the investigations start, and the arrest are made,
    (if any in certain cases), I really, just simply should not care. If I had no empathy, I’d simply chalk it up to two less food stamp cases. Two less section 8 housings to contend with. Two less people, bringing down society by living off the states welfare system.
    Someone should take the time to do some statistics on what the state and the county are saving as a result of these shootings. Someone needs to crunch those numbers, and find out what the financial impact on that side of things are.

  • Well they be talking for 2 and a half hours so far. Is GVL safe yet? Any shootings since 2 PM?

  • Ward: “Part of my intent is to spread the mantle of responsibility across all 270,000 people in the county…”

    Ok, maybe it’s time for a county consolidation of governments since Ward wants to ‘spread’ the ‘responsibility’ for things the city fails to manage or resolve.

    Summit?

    It’s political theatre funded by ARPA for a problem no amount of new ‘data’ is going to show culpability being different than a community accepting the status quo based upon its choices in leadership and outcome of criminal cases.

    Having a politically activist policy of ‘affirmation action’ in the justice system, and, having deterrent-level enforcement/consequences for violent crimes are incompatible in any perception of anti-crime efforts.

    They don’t need a summit. They need a spine.

  • At least we don’t have to worry about them going hungry with a Shula’s Steak House in the hotel lobby. How much is all of this costing, anyway?

  • As usual, the regressives are talking about gun restriction laws which affect who? Law abiding citizens. Are law abiding citizens committing gun crimes? No, criminals are. Maybe we should have gun control laws which apply to criminals. Oh Wait, we do! Felons can’t possess guns! And yet, they are by far the ones committing most of the gun crimes.

    I don’t give a rat f–k about what kind of laws other countries have about gun control. We have a constitutional right in this country. Just like there’s a constitutional right to expose kids to violent TV, music, video games, social media, etc. And when you consider the number of deaths per gun in the US, they are every bit as safe as the cars we drive around in every day and no regressive complains about. When you factor in injuries, cars are far and away more dangerous.

  • Oh, as far as the red state v. blue state argument- factor out suicides and then factor in which areas of those red states (i.e., which cities) those gun deaths are coming from. And then- throw all that crap out the window! Because wherever gun crimes (not suicides) are being committed, criminals are committing them, not law abiding citizens. And no one cares if it’s a blue criminal or a red criminal.

  • Once again they mislead us with statistics. The map shown is for shootings inside the city limits of Gainesville. There are many more shootings and murders for us to worry about. The area along Hawthorne Road and the area between I-75 and Tower Road are in the county. “Solving” the city shootings without solving the shootings in these areas does not solve the whole connected problem. Misleading info by city “leaders.”

  • 150 shootings and 9 murders over the past year…I’d love to see the demographics of the shooters and all involved, but of course they won’t release that. Because they are not interested in the truth, only in presenting a nice, tidy dog-and-pony show.

    • We all know where most of the shootings are at and who is behind it just like most democrat run cities in Gainesville it’s the east side

      • I guess that explains the data I posted below: Wyoming, Montana, and Alaska ranked 5-7 in gun deaths. Vermont and Maine are way down there.

  • It’s surprising that only 1 of the 65 comments so far directly references that very informative topo map posted with the article of “shooting incidences” in the city. That map clearly disproves the airhead mayor’s claim that we’re all responsible. It’s a cultural problem whose roots can be investigated and discussed, but the problem is not city-wide.

  • For the zillionth time…this has nothing to do with guns and everything to do with the shooter.

  • I read that there were 10 murders in Gainesville in 2022. The amount of traffic fatalities is much higher. You have a better chance of being injured or killed crossing a street or riding a bicycle in Gainesville based on last years statistics. I dont see a huge push on banning cars and driving privileges in Gainesville.

    • I believe they have considered those in the past.
      We definitely don’t need to remind them to refocus on prior idiotic ideas.

  • https://img.particlenews.com/image.php?url=0vC9Xf_0numAM0y00
    Last week, we got a total of 131 safety incidents from Gainesville. Assault cases topped the list with 37 incidents, followed by 23 suspicious situations, and 21 thefts. Other offenses such as trespassing, burglary, and vandalism were also reported. The data shows a relatively high frequency of assault and theft, indicating a need for increased vigilance in these areas.
    If you could see the map 90% of all these numbers are along Main Street out to Waldo Road so with this information the city knows where to spend their time on gun violence and other crimes resolved them and i sure most of the crime in other areas was go away

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