Trust me though: it's the only story, once turned into a movie, necessary to show our grandchildren why this epoch came crashing down.
Violent crime, almost entirely committed by blacks in a city dominated by Republican-elected mayors for the better part of post-1968 America.
A black pastor pitches a tent, to protest this black violence... committed in a city dominated by Republican-elected mayors for the better part of post-1968 America.
|If Indianapolis lacked a black population, would there be more than five murders in an entire year? Would there be more than 10 nonfatal shootings in a year?|
The tent, mind you, is pitched on Martin Luther King Jr. Street...[Fed up with crime, pastor makes his pitch, Indianapolis Star, 9-5-15]:
Pitching a tent next to a laundromat in one of the most violent areas of the city — with plans to live there and sleep there overnight for a month — might not seem like the wisest course of action.
But the Rev. John Girton Jr. says he’s got to do something. There’s been too much violence this summer — there is every summer, he says — to stand by and do nothing.
So he’s taking up residence — for the next 30 days — in a tent that his church has pitched for him at the corner of 30th and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. streets.
The neighborhood is one of six “hot spots” named in 2013 by local police, using crime data analysis, as areas of the city with the greatest amount of violence and killings.
“We’re not going to go Downtown to Monument Circle,” Girton said. “I’m going to go where the issues are.”
The tent is just the latest means of drawing attention to the violence. Prayer vigils at the locations of murders have become a staple of the crime scene. And one pastor has taken to rolling a coffin through neighborhoods with a mannequin inside while an entourage waves signs with messages such as “Who’s next?”
“We’re doing everything within our power to get the message out that this is not acceptable in our community,” said Rev. Anthony Pippens, whose Northwestside church, Greater New Hope, employs the coffin approach. “If people are offended by it, I don’t have a problem with them. I’m offended by all the killings and the gang activity.”
Indianapolis has seen 85 criminal homicides this year, a pace rivaling the most violent years of the past decade. As tragic as the lives lost, says Girton, the tent pastor, are the lives of those left behind. At a recent funeral for a man shot three times, the pastor was left standing next to the victim’s two young sons — ages 8 and 11.
Girton and his church will hold a vigil at 6 p.m. as he officially moves into the tent for the month. Over the next 30 days, the pastor hopes to see many visitors in his temporary home — people in need from the neighborhood and people with creative solutions from around the city.
“I’m hoping that we can be the spark that gets pastors out of the pulpits, church members out of churches, business people out of offices, elected officials out of the City-County Building down here to where there are people who need help,” Girton said.
And the spot he’s chosen for his campground is clearly close to the areas of need.c
Just a few blocks from the site, a 16-year-old boy was recently shot and killed by another 16-year-old. Girton knows because he preached at the boy’s chapel service.
In 2014, the Near-Northside neighborhood ranked seventh in the city in terms of violent crimes and assaults, according to the SAVI database at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.And the spot he’s chosen for his campground is clearly close to the areas of need.
Girton, 46, became the pastor at Christ Missionary Baptist in March, taking over for his uncle, the Rev. Melvin Girton. Since becoming pastor, he’s spent a lot of time walking the neighborhood and talking with the people. That, he said, is why he’s not concerned for his own safety sleeping outside.
Less than the problems of the guns and the gangs and the drugs, Girton said the greatest problem affecting the people in the neighborhood is more fundamental — hopelessness.
“They don’t see a better tomorrow. They don’t see that tomorrow has anything better to offer than today,” Girton said. “If a person doesn’t have hope, they will reach out to whatever vice or tool that they can to destroy or to make life worse for somebody else, to feel better about themselves. I hate to say that, but that’s what people do. So bottom line, it’s about hope, man.”The tent could be pitched until the end of time...
Has the "pitch a tent to protest violence" approach ever been necessary in a community without a black population?