INDIANAPOLIS — Less than a mile away from a fatal shooting at the corner of Wheeler and 25th Street, a basketball league for young men launched. It’s another example of a community’s will to drive violence down in the city.
The vision Al Montgomery, Executive Director of the Home 1st Foundation, has for the Martindale-Brightwood neighborhood centers around young men playing basketball with their loved ones nearby.
“We want the young men to participate in our basketball league, to bring their significant others and their children,” Montgomery said.
Montgomery’s helped coordinate these leagues for several years and knows these games are bigger than basketball.
“We’ve had people that were in trouble in the legal system that have cleared probation and came out and got jobs, that have had children, that are good fathers and have continued their education,” Montgomery listed.
The league focuses on young men ages 18 to 35. Unfortunately, youth homicides continue to rise which is why Al’s strategy is using basketball to promote peace in Indy.
“So if they see each other out in the streets or at a public event or something and one of their friends might have a problem with one of their friends they can smash that,” Montgomery explained.
Just before the league started Friday, a fatal shooting marked the 29th homicide in October. Police echo what the community’s feeling: the killings have to stop.
“It’s very unfortunate that our kids that are in this area or want to enjoy activities, that they have to walk past this, they have to drive past this with their parents,” IMPD Public Information Officer Samone Burris said.
As upsetting as death is, Montgomery and many others will not let this deter them from working towards a happier and healthier community.
“Everything you see doesn’t have to be negative,” Montgomery said.