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Ending violence in Palatka is personal for Commissioner

Commissioner Tammie McCaskill

Palatka City Commissioner Tammie McCaskill is organizing a forum on Saturday, Oct. 7, to bring people together to discuss ways to stop teen violence in our community. The event to be held at the C.L. Overturf District Center gymnasium in the City will address this important issue by fostering collaborations with local officials, clergy, law enforcement agencies, community organizations, and residents.  

For Commissioner McCaskill, planning the forum is about more than her duty to serve her constituents; for McCaskill, preventing violence is very, very personal.  

"In October of 2018, I lost my sister, Pamala, to domestic violence," she said, "then I lost my son to gun violence on Dec. 31, 2018," Commissioner McCaskill said in an interview in City Hall.  

Commissioners McCaskill's son, 22-year-old Jahme Jones, was shot and killed after an altercation with a man in Palatka.  

"I am at peace with his killer now. I can tell you this young man was found not guilty, and I was not at peace with that at the time. But I am at peace," she continued, "I was angry, very angry at him, but I had to also realize that my son played a part in his death. If he hadn't had this fight with the young man, then it wouldn't have ever happened, and that's what we forget."  

"We immediately, as families, as victims of violence, need to think about the end. We all we need to think about how it started and start changing the narrative. I had to get to this point. Many people may not understand and say it doesn't matter, but it does matter. It doesn't mean people shouldn't be held responsible for their actions, but we should look at ways to prevent tragedies."  

"I want all families to be able to get to where I am and to be able to talk about the causes of the violence and to be able to own it so that these teens can see that we understand and care and then we can start getting them to the point where they don't have to resort to violence. They can go to adults like us and say, hey, what do I do when I'm angry rather than fight? Who can I talk to? Who can coach me out of this? Who can calm me down?"  

For Commissioner McCaskill, the only people who can stop the violence in Palatka are the people of Palatka, and she hopes that the forum will be a significant part of the process of everyone in the community working together to solve the problem.  

"My vision is to have the room packed with community members to talk and share ideas and have resources available who can help. We will have breakout sessions so families can go and ask private questions or share their stories. I hope that there may change in that room. It may be a kid, it may be a youth, it may be an adult saying, 'Hey, I need help, and you're the one that I need the help from. I didn't know that this resource was available in my community. Can you help me?'   

"If we save one life and one family from grief, it will all be worth it," she said.  

The forum is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 7 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the C.L. Overturf District Center gymnasium, 1100 South 18th Street, Palatka.  

Commissioner McCaskill encourages organizations in the community that would like to be part of the forum to contact her at or or by calling City Hall (386) 329-0100.

Commissioner Tammie McCaskill, a Palatka native, was sworn in as Group 1 Commissioner on January 9, 2017.  She holds a Specialist of Education Degree and is an educator and administrator with the Putnam County School District.

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