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Groups join efforts against violence

Published May 16, 2007


ST. PETERSBURG - In what is expected to be the largest gathering to date, community leaders will meet Saturday in an effort to stop the pattern of violence in neighborhoods in Midtown and Childs Park.

About 250 clergy members, civil rights activists, social scientists, fraternity and sorority members, youth development advocates and neighborhood leaders will convene at 8:30 a.m. at Mount Zion Progressive Missionary Baptist Church, 955 20th St. S.

Educators, drug intervention specialists and family counselors also are expected to attend the meeting, which organizers hope will help consolidate several streams of antiviolence activity during the past year.

After gunfire killed several young men in 2006, a number of residents and groups jumped into the fray.

Mothers of the slain young men began delivering their personal antiviolence messages door to door.

Clergy convened meetings.

Residents and youth group leaders began their own initiatives, some quietly, others in more high-profile ways such as on public access television.

"I think in the past there's been quick bursts of energy. Rallies, marches, anguish being expressed in certain ways. This is different. It will harness the energy behind one plan, " said Gypsy Gallardo, one of the organizers of Saturday's conclave.

The other co-chair is longtime community activist Gwen Reese.

The meeting will attempt to build a collective, community plan with three major elements, Gallardo said. It will:

-Take an antiviolence campaign street by street.

-Emphasize recruiting parents for support.

-Emphasize putting pressure on the county school district to help close the educational achievement gap.

"It will be the first time many of these people will be in the same room together. We are beyond the rally and march stage. We're into decisions and action, " Gallardo said.

Fast Facts:

If you go

About 250 clergy members, activists, neighborhood leaders and others will convene at 8:30 a.m. at Mount Zion Progressive Missionary Baptist Church, 955 20th St. S.

To attend: A reservation is required for the meeting and the 7:45 a.m. breakfast.

How to register: Call 866-0873 or e-mail reachout@powerbroker .

News in numbers

A presentation shows startling statistics:

-Just 25 percent of African-American males who entered high school in 2001 graduated with a standard diploma.

-Only 25 percent of Midtown's African-American males are employed in skilled jobs.

-African-American youngsters accounted for 57.3 percent of St. Petersburg's referrals to the juvenile justice system in 2003, the last year for which data is available.

[Last modified May 15, 2007, 23:34:38]

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