BRADENTON -- Almost 100 people came out Sunday to the 13 AV Dream Center answering the call to action for the men of Bradenton to take back the streets from violent offenders.
In response to a fatal shooting at the Dream Center, organizers initiated the "Real Men Movement" asking male residents to lead the community away from criminal activity.
Patrick Carnegie, director of the 13th AV Dream Center, is one of the leaders behind the initiative.
"Violent crime is just the boiling point," Carnegie said. "There is a lot going on in our community. Everybody doesn't have to do the heavy lifting."
Never miss a local story.
The Real Men Movement asks men and women to commit to the Manatee Metro Action Plan with the following pledge: "Join with our committed men to advocate for effective change in our community in the areas of crime reduction, economic opportunity, education, heath, mentoring and family values, ministry and evangelism and social justice and equality."
The YMCA and Mt. Zion Progressive Baptist Church have partnered with the 13th AV Dream Center in its Real Men Movement.
"Little things can mean a lot. Little things can create change," said Sean Allison, chief executive officer of YMCA Manatee County. "To a hungry child, a peanut butter-and-jelly sandwich can change their life."
Hungry children care only about their empty stomachs, Allison said.
"Nothing else matters," Allison said. "Everybody can make a peanut butter-and-jelly sandwich."
Allison urged the crowd of mostly men to stand up and be counted.
"The blood that got spilled in that parking lot is red. All of us have that," Allison said. "We're asking you to do whatever it takes to make sure that never happens again."
At the conclusion of the rally, Carnegie urged all those in attendance to sign the Manatee Metro Action Plan pledge. He also asked them to volunteer for one of the advocacy areas.
Greg Alexandrea decided he would make the commitment.
"You either sit on the sidelines or you get in the game," Alexandrea said. "It's time the community bands together."
Alexandrea, who lives in the area, has a son in high school and a daughter about to go to medical school.
"We live here so we have to make sure it's safe to grow up," Alexandrea said.
John Maccants was also there out of concern for making his community a safer place for his children.
"Anything for difference," Maccants said. "Our youth are in danger right now."
The father of four fears for his own children sometimes, he said.
"You can raise them right but can still have an event like what happen out here," Maccants said.
Since the fatal shooting of Brenton Coleman Sr. at a youth football practice at the Dream Center, the Bradenton police have increased their presence at the community center. Lt. James Wilkinson was at Sunday's rally.
"We have been out here as much as we can," Wilkinson said.
The added police presence worked, Wilkinson said. Crime has decreased with only one shooting and two robberies reported in Zone 2 in the last five weeks, he said.
"It's certain groups that ruin it for everybody," Wilkinson said. "A few bad eggs that handle their problems by shooting someone."
Police need the community to respond, too, Wilkinson said.
"We can only do so much," Wilkinson said. "They need to take back their neighborhood."
Jessica De Leon, law enforcement reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7049. You can follow her on Twitter @JDeLeon1012