Westside pastor strikes tent in campout for peace
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (October 4, 2015) — As IMPD homicide detectives were responding to the discovery of the city’s latest murder victim on the eastside, a westside minister was striking a tent he has lived in for a month in a campout for peace.
Pastor John Girton of Christ Missionary Baptist Church spent 30 days sleeping in a tent pitched on a patch of grass next to an asphalt parking lot at West 30th Street and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Street.
“The Bible says we would have days like this and we would have months like this and so we have to recognize what do we do when we have months like this,” Pastor Girton told more than 100 neighbors and supporters who turned out to mark the end of his urban camping vigil.
Democratic Mayor Candidate Joe Hogsett was among those in attendance.
“He slept for 30 days,” said IMPD Chief Rick Hite. “He heard all the sounds. He saw all the issues. He felt all the pain.”
Victims Advocate Clarrisa Patton spent much of the last month by Pastor Girton’s side and said she often heard gunshots in the ANWAR community.
“I did on a couple occasions,” she said. “But you know what I think? Because we were present here, because the pastor was present here, maybe there was so many that we didn’t hear. Maybe there were many that didn’t take place just because of his presence.”
A fellow minister hammered a white cross into the ground to remember the city’s latest homicide victim whose death was reported even at the rally began.
“This has got to be a movement,” Hite reminded the crowd. “It cannot be law enforcement alone.”
The intersection where Pastor Girton chose to campout has been especially hard hit with economic setbacks as neighboring Double 8 Foods and Chase Bank recently closed their doors.
“We need a way to survive within our own surroundings,” said Patton. “If you’re a single mom and you don’t have a car, where you going to go to the grocery store? We talk about finances and get our money together. How we going to do that without a local bank?”
Patton said she hoped the lessons the community learned about the need for jobs and drug counseling and mentoring programs would continue after the tent came down.