There has been a rash of shootings in South Miami-Dade, and police and the community came together Wednesday afternoon looking for a way to stop the violence once and for all.
“The killings need to stop. We are urging each and every single person that is in a place of influence that this Thanksgiving, that you sit down and speak with your loved ones and you let them know that the revenge does not stop, and that the killings need to stop," said Jessica Hylton, who organized the event.
Just over the weekend there were three separate shootings that sent residents to the hospital. Hylton believes the back and forth on the gunfire is happening because those involved are constantly seeking revenge.
“It’s not a law enforcement issue. It’s not a mom and dad issue. It's a community whole that we need to come together and to form a bond and to provide these kids with some direction," said Major Fernand Charles Jr., the commander for Miami-Dade Police Department’s South District. "We’ve lost some kids, but it's not too late to bring them back. They’re the ones who is causing a lot of this violence that’s going on 'cause they don’t know any better."
School Board member Luisa Santos thinks some teens can fall through the cracks without the normal school calendar and after-school activities.
“We certainly need to do a much better job of ensuring that we are protecting people's heath while continuing to provide that safe haven," Santos said.
Pastor Cathedral of Praise Kay Williams Dawson has a message for families this Thanksgiving.
“To say to our young people, 'You are relevant.' We want to release the spirit of peace—release the spirit of joy—release the spirit of communication, that we can talk to each other,” Dawson said.
Residents welcome more police in the area but want to see the county really invest in more long term programs for jobs, housing, and transportation—things they believe will get to the root of why some decide to turn to violence in the first place.
"We need a declaration of a public health crisis against gun violence," said Dwight Bullard, a state legislator and now head of the NAACP in South Miami-Dade. "The reason I say a public health crisis is we need more than just increased presence of law enforcement."
Representatives for new Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava say the office is committed to improving these communities and working hand-in-hand with residents to curb the violence.