NewsPinellas County

Actions

St. Pete dad who lost son to gun violence hopes to educate youth with new initiative

gun violence in st pete.png
Posted at 4:18 PM, Jul 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-22 17:14:38-04

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — A St. Pete dad is on a mission to make the city safer after the death of his son back in 2019.

Marquis Scott was shot and killed while riding his bike. Now, he's trying to gain traction for a new initiative he's created.

st-pete-gun-violence.jpg
Maress Scott and his son Marquis

"We found ourselves wanting to do more for the community," Maress Scott said.

Scott has a big heart with even bigger goals. He wants to end gun violence in St. Petersburg.

"How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time," Scott said.

On Sept. 17, 2019, Scott's son was killed. Scott says Marquis was about to turn over a new leaf and start classes for a trade program. He decided to channel that grief into his community.

"I could hear my wife's voice when she said, 'Marquis would expect us to do something because we told him being a Scott means something,'" he said.

st-pete-gun-violence1.jpg

Scott started going into neighborhoods, asking young men to sign the "Black St. Pete Pledge." In short, it asks the person who signs it to walk away from situations that could lead to violence.

"We go to the very people that everyone says can't be reached. And by the grace of God, these guys were very receptive," Scott said. "You're finding out they don't want to die and they have concerns themselves.

Scott says that led him to create the "Quis For Life," an initiative with a play on his son's name.

At Thursday's city council meeting, he showed council members the curriculum he'd like to bring to St. Pete students with a revamped pledge called the "St. Pete Youth Pledge." He hopes it'll shift the culture.

"It challenges the no snitching culture. It challenges the fears and impress[es] upon them to take a stance, to adopt a non-violent lifestyle as well as share their lifestyle with friends," Scott said.

Normally, sons carry on the legacy of their fathers. But Scott believes telling Marquis' story could be the spark to ignite change for generations to come.

"All those people received the light that was in my son, it's shining in us and by the grace of God we were going to make the change. We want to save somebody's life," he said.

City council members told Scott they'd like to connect him with resources like Parks and Rec and Pinellas County schools to get the word out to kids around the county.

If you'd like to help Scott's mission, you can email him at moscot90@aol.com.