INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- A familiar cycle of violence plays out on the streets of Indianapolis seemingly every night. Each year seems to set its own deadly record. But if you think the situation is hopeless, you haven’t been listening to the one voice that’s been speaking out about it now for 20 years.
"There's not one silver bullet that reduces the violence. It takes everyone working together," said Reverend Charles Harrison.
Harrison knows the violent streets of the Circle City better than anyone. He’s the leader and one of the founders of the Indianapolis Ten Point Coalition. It’s a group of ministers, volunteers and former gang members who, since 1998, have taken to the streets to calm neighborhoods. Sometimes they arrive only minutes after a violent crime has been committed.
"There's a lot of danger in what we do because when we're out on the streets five night a week, we're trying to engage the individuals who are most likely to be the victims and the perpetrators of violent crime, and probably 90% of them have guns," said Harrison.
Harrison recently went for a drive around some neighborhoods Ten Point has been invited into by community leaders concerned about violence. It’s a lesson Harrison learned first-hand as a teenager. Gang violence led to the death his own brother, and he says the men who did it were brazen enough to attend the funeral with his family. Harrison remembers the rage vividly.
"Ended up sitting with the family for the funeral and that was as much as I could take. I just had a lot of hate and anger in my heart, and I wanted to get revenge," said Harrison. "And I almost made a choice that would have taken me down a path that would have changed my life forever."
Harrison’s path instead led him to the Butler-Tarkington neighborhood. It was the site of one of Ten Point’s most well-known success stories. After the killing of 19-year-old Malik Perry, Ten Point helped prevent another homicide in this neighborhood for a thousand days.
"I know the pain. I remember seeing how my father and mother reacted to hearing their son was dead and the impact it had on my family," said Harrison.
Ten Point has not been immune to criticism. Some call it too political and point out that despite its efforts, the homicide rate still sets records.
"I know what we do out here. I know we have prevented shootings and homicides by our engagement of individuals on the street on a daily basis," said Harrison.