Sen. Shevrin Jones, a West Park Democrat, is calling on officials in the Joe Biden administration to visit South Florida and meet with families affected by a series of shootings dating back to last week.
Jones has been a longtime Biden backer, endorsing his presidential bid early on in May 2019. After stumping for Biden the last cycle, Jones is now calling on the President to help address gun violence in the region.
“I am respectfully submitting this letter asking for you or your administration to visit our grieving South Florida community for a small roundtable discussion with the family of victims, local elected officials, and clergy,” Jones wrote in a Friday letter to the President.
“Violence, unfortunately, ushered in the Memorial Day weekend here, when gunmen indiscriminately sprayed bullets into crowds at two Miami venues. Multiple people died, and at least 20 others were injured during a shooting outside a banquet hall, about a day after a drive-by shooting killed one person and injured six.”
Those large shootings mentioned by Jones earned the bulk of attention over the weekend. But they weren’t the only deadly shootings in the past week. Jason Campbell, the son of former Sen. Daphne Campbell, was found dead early Tuesday after being shot outside a Miami-Dade County apartment complex.
In Jones’ letter, he worries the past week of violence may not be an outlier in weeks and months ahead.
“Even before the pandemic, the first warm-weather long weekend of the year was often a deadly one when it came to gun violence in South Florida and U.S. cities across the nation,” Jones wrote.
“And with violence remaining at higher levels nationally than it was prior to COVID-19, many cities are bracing themselves for what the coming weekends may bring.”
Jones has long been a proponent of putting targeted attention toward gun violence in the region. When he served in the House, Jones introduced a measure to create a task force to study causes and find solutions to gun violence in urban communities. He refiled that bill last Session after taking over a Senate seat.
The body aimed to “investigate system failures and the causes of high crime rates and gun violence incidents in urban core neighborhoods and communities. In addition, the task force shall develop recommendations for solutions, programs, services, and strategies for improved interagency communications between local and state government agencies which will help facilitate the reduction of crime and gun violence in urban core neighborhoods and communities,” according to the bill.
The task force would be modeled after the panel set up after the 2018 shooting in Parkland. But the legislation failed. Now, Jones is looking for Biden or his surrogates to help bring attention to the issue.
“Lack of access to income, suitable housing, and other critical life needs are key drivers of gun violence, and the pandemic has caused widespread economic upheaval while disrupting the delivery of social services,” the letter reads.
“Many local gun violence intervention programs — which have seen success in preventing daily gun violence in cities — also experienced unprecedented challenges in their work, including strained funding, social distancing measures, and an expansion of their mission to include preventing the spread of the virus. Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter. Together, these are among the compounding factors that may explain this startling upward trend of gun violence and the need for true leadership here in Florida.”