Gainesville residents met at the Bartley Temple United Methodist Church Saturday in conjunction with The Rosa Parks Quiet Courage Committee on Saturday at 10 a.m. for the community “Chain of Peace” event.
Twelve individuals gathered inside the church at 1936 NE Eighth Ave. on Saturday morning with heavy hearts to offer up prayers and discuss the effect of gun violence, discrimination, and the end of hatred both globally and locally in Alachua County.
“This year is still very young,” said Rev. Milford L. Griner, the president and founder of The Rosa Parks Quiet Courage Committee. “But from Jan. 1 up until now this has been a very difficult year. Already since the year began, there has been multiple killings and mass shootings while here in Gainesville. There has been a loss of life of young men not too far away from here.”
Griner said that he has been told by the community that they are tired of offering up thoughts and prayers for these violent acts for they seem to never end, and a resolution is not found.
He said he understands their concerns but emphasizes that we can make a difference by offering up peace to the affected communities.
“We may not be able to stop all these episodes of gun violence because some crimes and known as crimes of passion,” he said. “You can’t predict when someone will get mad and grab a gun and kill someone. But what we can do is we know the power of prayer. We can come together and pray and call for peace and give support to one another.”
Griner who grew up in Philadelphia was a victim of gun violence himself in 1969. At the age of 11, he was shot by a gang in the head after declining recruitment to join while sitting on his porch. The bullet caused Griner to have damage to his right eye and need a skin graft.
He said that because of this experience, he has a personal mission to offer up his strength and support to others in similar situations.
In 1984, Griner moved to Gainesville and started his ministry career and recently retired 2 years ago. He continues to serve as the committee president which he founded in 2006.
“I retired, but I’m not tired,” he said. “The war still goes on. There is still work to do for justice. There is still work to do on the behalf of Rosa Parks.”
This hour-long event included a statement of purpose by Griner, scripture readings and dedication by Saeed R. Khan and Kali Blount, a musical recording of ‘Let There Be Peace on Earth” by Vince Gill and concluded with the participants standing in the parking lot of the church linking arms in a circle to form the ‘Chain of Peace”.
Among the event attendees was Jamie Kurnick the chief inspector of the Gainesville Police Department for the past 22 years.
Kurnick said the police agency is dedicated to helping the children in the community.
“A lot of what we are seeing is violence amongst kids and that is the scariest part for us,” she said.
Both Kurnick and Griner mentioned the recent passing of an individual on Sept. 2, 2022, at the Gardenia Gardens apartment complex and Dylan Lyons, a former journalist for Gainesville’s WCJB television news station. Each death was a result of gun violence.
“Chief (Tony) Jones said several years ago that we don’t want to go to one more funeral of one more child within our community and how do we stop that,” Kurnick said. “We are reaching out to the community to say we can’t do it alone and we need your help because we can’t lose one more life.”