UF students and Alachua County Sheriff’s Office deputies in civilian clothes will visit East Gainesville on Saturday to attend a carnival complete with a bounce house, a three-legged race and snowman-themed games.
The second annual Holiday T.I.E.’s Carnival, hosted by the Transform, Invest, Engage Community Initiative, is from noon to 4 p.m. at the Southeast Rotary Boys & Girls Club, located at 1100 SE 17th Drive. The event is meant to humanize police and the community they work for, said Jireh Davis, the organization’s founder and a UF political science and African-American studies junior.
“The purpose is basically to transform the relationship between the community and the police, invest time in those relationships and engage in fun and carefree events so that those relationships can be fostered,” she said.
The carnival is free and open to everyone. The restaurant Celebrity’s Soul Food will cater the carnival and UF organizations, including the Black Student Union and Freshman Leadership Council, will bring games, Davis said.
Davis, 20, felt tired of talk about conflicts between police and residents and created the initiative to put her feelings into action, she said.
“It’s for kids to maybe look up at a police officer and not be afraid of them or not be nervous about them being there, but be able to say, ‘Hey, maybe I want to be one of those one day,’” she said.
Aleyna Ross, a 19-year-old UF psychology sophomore, is a member of the T.I.E. Community Initiative and said the carnival helps children build a relationship with police early on, she said.
“It’s allowing the children to learn that not all police are bad,” she said.
Davis said she feels a duty toward Gainesville despite being an out-of-state student from Arlington, Texas.
“I couldn’t imagine coming to the University of Florida and just taking an education and running away,” she said. “Giving back is what I love to do.”