INDIANAPOLIS — Some Indianapolis high school athletes are taking a stand against youth violence in the city after near-record levels of homicides in January, including 3 teenagers killed in the first few days of the year.
During a game on Friday, Crispus Attucks faced off against Irvington Prep. While the teams are opponents on the court, they sent a unified message.
“We just want to be change agents and make sure that the kids understand that violence is not the answer,” said Crispus Attucks’ head coach Chris Hawkins.
Both teams are part of the ‘Team Up For Peace’ initiative. Before their games, the two squads warm up in special hoodies that read “Stop The Violence Indianapolis.”
The message is meant for all of Indianapolis, but especially the players’ peers.
“We wanted to use to use high school basketball players to use their influence to reach other students because they have a level of influence,” said founder Anthony Beverly.
Beverly founded the initiative with the help of IU basketball stars Race Thompson and Trayce Jackson-Davis.
Their primary goal is to reduce youth violence following a deadly January. Beverly said he believes it is more needed than ever.
“We haven’t seen the level of success that we would like to see but we do believe that it’s working,” Beverly said. “Because it’s causing guys to stop and think.”
Across the city, 16 teams are participating.
Hawkins said the message on the shirt is one he’s constantly preaching to his players.
“Think about your community, think about your family, about your school,” Hawkins said. “Just think about ‘hey I wanna see my people the next day,’ but every day isn’t promised.”
The hope is that these players take those messages and pass them on so they can be part of the positive change the city needs to see.
“We can continue to push on our players to do the right thing and they’re showing on and off the court they’re making the right decisions,” Hawkins said. “We want to stop the violence. We want to make sure that murder rate gets lower and lower.”
Beverly said the hope is to get even more teams to participate in the future.
If teams would like to join the campaign, they can call Stop the Violence
Indianapolis, Inc. at 317-692-9929 or contact them via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.