|The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD) -- preparing to deal with "youth" violence this summer by releasing report in May that details plan for handling the "teens" currently hibernating...|
Local clergy say they will take an anti-violence message from the pulpit to the pavement this month to slow down killings in urban neighborhoods.
In declaring April, “Non-violence Month,” the coalition of ministers said it was their most coordinated effort yet to break through with the message of peace to youth in the black community.
“This is a widespread effort to put boots on the grounds, try to touch households, an all out spring offensive,” said the Rev. Melvin J. Jackson, of Christian Love Missionary Baptist Church, 1630 W. 57th St. “Some of the people are drinking in violence everyday. It is on their TVs, it is pictures, it is in games.”
At a news conference outside the Marion County Juvenile Detention Center, 2451 N. Keystone Ave., the ministers said they plan to walk neighborhoods regularly, speaking to children and their parents about the ramifications of violence.
“We are asking for the whole month that whoever it is who would do violence, to pray instead,” said the Rev. Fitzhugh L. Lyons of Galilee Missionary Baptist Church, 2624 E. 25th St. “We would like to get the whole community to participate in spreading the word.”
The group plans anti-violence events through the month, including vigils and peace walks every Friday and Saturday night. The ministers plan to go into the Indianapolis Public Schools and charter schools to meet one--on-one with students and plan a citywide peace rally April 11.
“We hope that it serves as a call to action for the broader community to get involved,” said Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department Staff Chaplain David Coatie.
The effort comes just ahead of an IMPD plan to combat summer violence. The plan is tentatively scheduled to be released in May and though details have not be released, it likely will incorporate elements of the minister’s initiative.
“I think they will work hand-and-hand with what we see succeeds here,” said IMPD Community Affair Cmdr. Randal Taylor.
Indianapolis’ 30 criminal homicides this year are 36 percent more than at the same time last year, when there were 22. Nineteen of those killings were committed in two of the city’s six districts, the North and the East districts.
The Friday and Saturday walks will take place in five North and Eastside neighborhoods at the same time. They are: 42nd and Post roads; 34th and Keystone; 25th Street and Emerson Avenue; 30th and Clifton streets and 10th and Rural streets.
Taylor said police can’t point to specific reasons why killings are on the rise but hope talking with residents could flesh out some of the root causes.
“Kids have told us there is nothing out there to do, that they want more than basketball,” he said. “They tell us they need jobs and places to go to stay safe.”He said some teens have said dances would be safe alternative on weekends and another group of teens is trying to form a theater.
“We are looking into all of it,” Taylor said. “Most of the kids about here are good. it’s usually a small percentage that make the trouble.”
In addition to the neighborhood violence, sporadic violence by teens has flared recently in the Circle Centre Mall, Lafayette Square Mall and Castleton Square Mall.
All 38 of Taylor’s community affairs officers will be involved in the minister’s activities.
There is a criminal element in this town that consists primarily of young black men. The recent attacks on the Monon; the perpetrators were young black men. The “Pop It Off Boys” gang; young black men. The most high ridden crime areas of the city, who are the bad guys? Say it with me, they are usually young black men.
This may be painful, but the truth hurts. What’s really sad about all this is the city is hosting one of the leading historically black fraternities in town this week, Kappa Alpha Psi. There is something wrong when in one part of town we celebrate achievement, academics and perseverance in the face of adversity and at times open rand hostile racism meanwhile, a 19-year old who should have been applying to get into the fraternity has his life snuffed out by gunfire. There is also something even more wrong when people will read this column and get mad at me and call me a “sellout” or an “Uncle Tom” because I was the guy who was brave enough to tell truth.
Indianapolis, you have a problem. Your problem is young, black men who are out of control .... It’s time to step up and start making examples out of people. Decent citizens black and white should not have to live in fear of urban terrorists. The elderly man who marched for civil rights in the 1950s and 60s should not have to live in fear because some Robin Hoodlum doesn’t know how to honor the social contract. Young people who are trying to do the right thing, shouldn’t have to live in fear because a bunch of cast extras from a Spike Lee film don’t know how to behave.