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'Tell your sons to put the guns down' | Neighbors, officials call for action on increased violence in Tampa

Posted at 10:56 PM, May 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-27 23:21:44-04

TAMPA, Fla. — Neighbors, parents and officials are tired of seeing flashing police lights across Tampa and Hillsborough County.

On Wednesday afternoon, Tampa City Councilman Orlando Gudes held a Zoom press conference to discuss increased violence.

Gudes says neighbors believe recent shootings are tied to local gangs.

“Parents, we need you to protect your children. We need you at all times protecting our communities,” said Gudes.

The Tampa Police Department says they’ve seen an uptick in shootings. Statistics comparing crimes involving guns during the same time period from March 1 to May 25 in 2019 and 2020 showed an increase in aggravated assault, aggravated battery and murder.

“I’m tired. I’m tired of crying for these mothers,” said advocate LaShawn Tims. “I’m tired of crying with these mothers for these black brothers. Listen, tell your sons to put the guns down.”

State representatives and county officials also echoed a need for action. They mentioned job opportunities and parents getting involved in their children’s lives as possible solutions.

Hillsborough County Commission Chairman Les Miller went as far as asking those involved in the violence to come to the table.

“If you know some of these young people that are willing to put that weapon down on the table, come sit down and talk to these black elected officials and others we could bring to the table and tell us what it is you’re doing and what we could do to stop it. This old man is ready to do it,” said Miller.

TPD reiterated what officials had to say and ask for parents and the community’s help. During the conference call, leaders want people to not brush violence off as another neighborhood’s problem.

“These kids need love," said Tims. "Let’s grab them up and tell them we love them. But in order to do that, we’ve got to give them hope. Hope that tomorrow is tomorrow, but today is the day we’ve got to tell them to stop it.”