William Dailey worries about not seeing his friends and not graduating. He worries he could spend the next 10 to 15 years in prison. He’s a 17-year-old junior at Raines High School. And he was arrested on charges of armed burglary, trespassing and resisting arrest.
He stood on the stage at Bethel Baptist Institutional Church Monday night alongside Sheriff John Rutherford, State Attorney Angela Corey and leaders in the black community at a discussion titled “The Importance of Values.”
Dailey’s voice cracked and his eyes became red as he shared his fears about the future with a crowd of hundreds watching.
“The reason I’m here is because at one point in time I wasn’t thinking,” Dailey said. “And I’m here to face the consequences.”
He called what happened a mistake and then shared why he and his peers fall into traps.
He said his peers don’t think before they act and they don’t fear prison or the police.
Rutherford and Corey both spoke about a lack of values not just in Jacksonville but the entire country.
Corey said part of the solution is to begin the discussion about values and accountability at an early age. She said the lessons must not only be spoken but absorbed and accepted.
Rutherford said Jacksonville will not arrest its way out of a crime problem and that values are fundamental for freedom to exist.
T’Juan Kimbrough is a man in his 20s from Jacksonville who was also on the panel. He spoke about dropping out of high school and being a teenage father.
He said many children aren’t taught how to think. He said they are told they have no value and they believe. He knows this because he once did, too.
“I felt like nothing so I acted like nothing,” Kimbrough said.
That statement rang true with the sheriff.
Rutherford said the community needs to figure out how to show children they have value or they will act like nothing.
Bishop Rudolph McKissick Jr, of Bethel Baptist Institutional Church was one of the speakers at the forum. He spoke about the need for young black men to follow the rules of society, even if those rules and systems aren’t just. He said that society has a perception of who a young black man is. He spoke about interview skills and speaking correctly.
He said Monday’s discussion needs to continue.
The Rev. John Guns of St. Paul Church recounted a run-in with a man drinking beer outside a corner store. He said the man told him he’s doing good for the children, but to remind them if they see sharks not to jump in the pool.
After a laugh from the crowd, Guns said he knows what that man was talking about.
“A lot of times our kids see the sharks in the pool, but jump in,” he said. “We got to teach them to stay out of the pool.”
Guns moderated the forum and is the founder of Operation Save Our Sons, a national initiative designed to teach life skills to teenagers.
Kimbrough said about seven years ago his life changed when a man stepped up and became his mentor.
Dailey, who joined Operation Save Our Sons after Judge Henry Davis told him about it, said mentors have also helped him.
Dailey’s next court appearance is Tuesday in front of Davis.
Derek Gilliam: (904) 359-4619