Fight against gun violence: we can no longer work in silence behind the scenes

Not yet. It’s a feeling that gets harder and harder not to numb but which worries my mind on a daily basis, the loss of another person who looks like me.

I know that feeling all too well and remember getting the call that one of my own mentees, Joshua Purcell, had lost his life to gun violence. I can still feel the tremors, the pain, the shock and the emotional roller coaster that followed the moment, the days, the months and the years that followed.

On August 1, we began this work with my announcement as Executive Director of the Council on the Status of Men and Boys, with the goal of reducing gun violence in our community and ending the ongoing grief left on both sides of a homicide. When these incidents occur, tragedy occurs with the life that no longer lives, as well as the life that will never walk free again.


Recently, we had yet another shooting. What stands out most about this case is that the four men arrested all had extensive criminal records as minors, with the crimes escalating into adulthood. It’s the same narrative that the “Anatomy of a Homicide” report, commissioned by Leon County Sheriff Walt McNeil to examine reported homicides in Leon County between 2015 and 2020, showed. This case and the report are directly aligned.

The report found that most homicide perpetrators had criminal histories, often violent, and most had committed crimes when they were minors. In the mass shooting outside Half Time Liquors, the background of the assailants was no different.

What could have been?

We can no longer continue to work in silence and behind the scenes. Our progress must be as strong as the gunfire destroying our community. One was already enough, but as long as we are united in grief, let us take this opportunity to turn grief into power and decide that we will be loud with our footsteps as we build on change. This case shows why the Council is so important. If we had the program in place when these men were underage, what might have been?

Royle King was appointed Executive Director of the Council on the Status of Men and Boys on August 1, 2022.

We ask all citizens to be part of our team and part of the solution. Assignments for our Board of Directors and recruitment for our committees will be announced soon. We reach out to our minors who have been suspended or expelled from school and pay even greater attention to those who have already been involved in our criminal justice system.

We don’t ask you to be mentors unless it’s something you’re passionate about. We just ask you not to close your eyes. Instead, wherever you are, whatever resources or service connections you have, make them available. We need to be able to offer our young people more than a kind word. We must offer them hope and an opportunity to improve their lives. We can no longer seek change in silos, we all need to do our part, big or small.

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On December 12, we will hold a community meeting, calling on all men to unfold the action steps of following the Council. We call on all men, at all levels, to join us, together.

The harsh truth is that we cannot save everyone. But I believe this focused, collaborative effort will move us in a positive new direction and help save lives. he answers now and forever moving forward is, we did it. How will you help prevent the next tragedy?

Prayers for all the families we have lost.

Royle King II

Royle King II is the Executive Director of the Council on the Status of Men and Boys. He can be reached at [email protected]


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