Violent week in Indy motivates crime prevention advocates to ‘double down’

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- The 14-year-old shot downtown on Friday night is another person added to the list of more than 20 who were victims of violence this week.

It's frustrating for the people working tirelessly to stop the crime and violence, but they are far from finished.

"You can't give up," said Director of Community Violence Reduction Shonna Majors. "We can't."

Standing in the Finish Line Boys and Girls Club at 38th and Post, where hundreds of kids, teens and young adults are being encouraged away from violence, community advocates try to stay positive.

"We've come a long way, and we have a long way to go," Majors said. "But we definitely want to stay the course and keep working for the best thing for our city."

Majors said the commitment of 59 community organizations across Indy is unwavering.

"All I can say is that all of us are out here still working," Majors said. "We're not gonna give up. I think it gives us more fuel to double down and do more work."

YES Indy REC Re-Engagement Center Director Erik Davenport, Sr. invites those 16 to 24 years old to play a new game in life, out of the streets and into school and jobs. He believes our city changes through one-on-one relationships.

"That would be the person in front of you. Can you help the person in front of you on a day-to-day basis?" Davenport encouraged.

That is a mission shared by Indy Ten Point Coalition.

"It's hard to stay positive when you know there's just so many daggone guns out here on the streets, and people are using them for violent reasons," said Rev. Charles Harrison.

Friday night, Ten Point's teams hit the pavement as they do nearly every night. They are just a little bruised, not broken.

"You have a week like this week where you have had too many days where multiple people have been shot, several people have been killed," Harrison said. "I think it's tough for groups, but we cannot give up."

The City of Indianapolis also commits millions of dollars to crime and violence prevention. According to the city's Office of Public Health and Safety, the 2020 budget passed by the city-county council this week added $250,000 more to the $750,000 already provided to the Community Crime Prevention Grant Program. The investments are part of roughly $4 million the city is investing in community-based crime and violence prevention efforts in 2019.

OPHS awards $300,000 per year to neighborhood groups engaged in violence prevention and intervention. This year, the Community Crime Prevention Grant Program, allocated by the city and administered by the Indianapolis Foundation, awarded more than $2.3 million to community organizations working to help neighbors and stop violence. OPHS said this is the first year more than $500,000 was given out to support capacity-building activities for grassroots organizations.

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