INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Los Angeles, New York, and Indianapolis–all three cities vary drastically in population, but in another category, they’re surprisingly similar.
As of last week, New York City, with a population of more than 8 million people, reported 42 murders in 2020. In that same time, Los Angeles, a city with a population of more than 4 million, reported 39 homicides. Meanwhile Indianapolis, a city of roughly 870,000, had 35 homicides. As of Friday, that number grew to 39.
“It’s just a mess out here,” said Leroy Smith, a team leader with Ten Point Coalition on the far east side. “Killings are happening every day and it shouldn’t happen like this.”
Between Thursday and Friday, there were three homicides in 24 hours. The latest happened Friday afternoon on the near northwest side, where police are only saying a man was killed in an alley.
Smith doesn’t need to turn on the news to hear about the rising homicides in Indianapolis. As a team lead for Ten Point coalition, he walks these streets himself. The area he covers is no stranger to violence.
“It’s hard. It’s getting more and more nerve racking and scarier for us to be out here,” Smith said. “There’s too much violence that is happening.”
Smith spends his time in the area of the Carriage House apartments. Five people have been killed there in February alone, including four young people killed in the same apartment.
“It’s steady happening, and we’re just sitting back shaking our heads talking about it,” Smith said. “We’re not getting out here and saying, ‘Come here young man, you’re worth something.'”
Smith feels a long list of issues like mental health and food insecurity are possibly contributing to the violence. He also says young people haven’t learned how to solve problems without turning to violence. Walking this area, he hears their stories and feels their pain.
“These are some beautiful people out here, they’re just hurting and they’re in need of things,” Smith said.
Smith also says young people haven’t learned how to solve problems without turning to violence. Some of the victims in these homicides are young people, in their 20s or even teens. They’re losing their life before it even starts.
“We have to help provide for them so they can make it to the next level, and they aren’t making it to the next level because they’re killing each other,” Smith said.
Thirty-nine homicides is a staggering number, but Smith knows it’s more than a number. These are people, and it’s time the community responds.
“Instead of everyone sitting at the tables and talking about it, let’s get out and do something about it.”