BRADENTON -- Two grandmothers' testimonials were proof of how the violence in Manatee and Sarasota counties has hurt so many.
Josephine Hall recalled the early morning hours of July 28, when she got the call her 17-year-old granddaughter Teria'le Rawls had been shot.
Unclear what had happen outside the Bradenton movie theater where Rawls had been shot and not knowing her granddaughter had already died, Hall said she drove to the crime scene on U.S. 301 at State Road 70.
She arrived to see her son, lying on the side of the road, wailing, she said, and then she recalled him saying, "Momma, she's gone."
"It was a thump in my heart," Hall said. "I can still feel the hurt. I can still feel the thump."
Saturday morning, community leaders, law enforcement, advocates and as well as some of the community members personally affected by violence, spoke at a All Lives Matter prayer breakfast held at Renaissance on the 9th in downtown Bradenton.
Just a week after one of the two defendants in the fatal shooting of their granddaughter was found not guilty, Hall and Eartha Simmons spoke not only of how heavy their hearts were for the loss of Teria'le, but they also addressed the behavior in the courtroom throughout the
trial and following the verdict.
"As of the courtroom, never seen so many ignorant ... people in a room," Simmons said. "Even though Frank Brice's family rejoiced on my family's death, God's got a plan."
Susie Copeland, president of the NAACP of Manatee County, also spoke about the behavior witnessed during the trial. Many of those present showed disrespect for the court system, she said.
She specifically took issue with those who entered the courtroom with their low-slung pants and their replies to question on the stand of "Yeah" and "Naw."
"When are we in the community going to start making a difference?" Copeland asked. "My God, is this the generation that is going to be taking care of us?"
Manatee County Sheriff's Office homicide detective Darryl Davis spoke of the need for the community to start taking responsibility for its problems.
"This isn't a Manatee County issue, this is a world issue," Davis said. "Charity starts at home."
Davis addressed the reluctance of many in the community to cooperate with law enforcement in their investigations.
"Law enforcement isn't on scene when crime happens," Davis said.
Those who are, however, fear what being called snitches if they inform officers, he added.
"We want someone to speak up, stand up," Davis said. "Parents, some of us have become enablers. You, as a parent, are not there to be loved; you are not your child's friend; you've got to raise them."
Pastor Sirnest Webster, of Bible Baptist Church in Palmetto, spoke of accepting responsibility and to stop blaming others for problems. He told people need to stop reacting, and to start acting.
"When's the last time you were doing work?" Webster asked. "Prayer is the key and our faith unlocks the door."
Jessica De Leon, Herald law enforcement reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7049. You can follow her on Twitter @JDeLeon1012.