INDIANAPOLIS — The East 38th Street corridor has been wracked by violence during the last week.
Three people have been shot to death since July 9 in the blocks just south of 38th Street, one of them while breaking into a house where there was recently a stabbing, and another person was shot in the 3700 block of Shadeland Avenue Saturday night.
That’s why the Temple of Praise Assembly at 3900 Meadows Drive was the perfect location for 17 clergy members to gather and announce that they had reached out to Indianapolis’ elected and law enforcement leadership in an attempt to reinvigorate the community fight against violence.
“Clergy and community leaders have asked for a meeting with Mayor Joe Hogsett and IMPD Chief Randy Taylor to discuss a public safety plan with 25 recommendations,” said Pastor Philip James of Mt. Zion Baptist Church. “We will also provide Mayor Hogsett and Chief Taylor with a list of successful anti-violence initiatives in Indy that should be supported and expanded to curb the surging violence in our city.”
Along with the more than two dozen recommendations, the pastors are calling on clergy to address the violence issue from the pulpit in August and on communities to establish violence-free zones while relaunching the Peace in the Streets neighborhood campaign and begin local peace walks every Thursday starting in Haughville this week.
“Put the guns down, stop the violence, peace in the streets,” said Aaron Williams, who coined the phrase as a teenager more than a dozen years ago.
“We are at 118 homicides, and you know what’s sad, while we’re 30% of the population, we’re 80% of the homicides,” said Williams in reference to the city’s Black population.
Indianapolis currently records two homicides every three days.
Indianapolis set a homicide record in 2018 with 178 killings.
At its current rate, Indianapolis will set a new homicide record by mid-October.
Still, Olgen Williams, who served as deputy mayor under Greg Ballard when the 2014 record was set, blames the killers and not the city’s leaders.
“That’s who has failed,” said Williams. “These people who have committed these acts. And maybe we as the community could have done more and maybe the mayor could have done more, but we’re here making sure we can do all we can do working with the mayor’s office and working with IMPD.
“Right now, we’re trying to support the mayor and the police department and making changes in our community.”
Mayor Hogsett is expected to meet with the clergy members by the end of the week.