INDIANAPOLIS — Following a tour of the Community Alliance of the Far Eastside, Mayor Joe Hogsett found a silver lining in the City’s fight against violent crime by noting that the homicide totals for 2022 are less than what they were on this date a year ago.
That is true.
On March 9, 2021, the City’s year-to-date homicide total stood at 45, on the way to a record of 271 killings.
Today, that number stands at 37, and while that raw tally is significantly lower than on this date last year, it doesn’t take into account a mass killing that claimed six lives on the northeast side in January of 2021.
Without the North Adams Street murders, this year’s homicide totals would be about the same as last year’s.
Hogsett’s visit to CAFÉ came just a day-and-a-half after two children, ages 14 and 15, were shot to death after being dropped off in Dubarry Park less than a mile from the site of the mayor’s tour.
The next day in the park, a friend of one victim’s family, Dorothy Brady, had pointed comments for Hogsett and IMPD Chief Randall Taylor.
“I’m calling out the mayor and police chief. You guys have got to do a better job. We are losing our children…our young men,” she said. “I need y’all to get on your job ASAP. You have got to do something.”
The mayor said he is banking heavily on $15 million in American Rescue Plan from the federal government this year to energize community anti-violence programs.
“I do say that the awareness that the city has of the investments being made and some of the fruits of those investments may very well be making a difference in lowering the numbers,” said Hogsett. “If we are to get to a point where homicides are no longer the operative story of the day, it is going to take more than the mayor, more than the police chief, more than IMPD, more than the Peacemakers, more than CAFÉ. Believe me, it takes all those people working together.
“At the family level, at the mentorship level, people need to step forward and make a difference in their community. Its going to take an entire community for us to address the challenges of gun violence in Indianapolis.”
Hogsett was at CAFÉ to meet some of the 41 Peacemakers his administration has hired to bring peace to Indy streets.
Brenden Ballard was hired in January as an outreach worker and told to learn everything he could about what’s going on in Castleton.
“I go to certain bars a couple times out of the night to see the energy, get a feel for the energy, see if there’s any frequent or intentional people come looking for trouble,” he said. “I’m learning where the younger kids hang out at and what they actually do. I’m learning a lot about the beefs here.”
The murders in Dubarry Park are the types of tragedies that call for the response of outreach workers, violence interrupters and life coaches hired by the Office of Public Health and Safety, “asking family members, friends, actually being in the streets in congregated areas, that’s about what our team is doing as of right now,” said Ballard. “Our job is really to just be ears to the streets, boots on the ground figuring it out, deliver that information upwards.”
Erik Davenport is a former Illinois police officer who has spent years getting to know the young people of the eastside at the Finish Line Boys & Girls Clubs.
“There are resource areas in this city that aren’t being utilized so it’s our job to try to make sure that happens, but we gotta do a better job or a consistent job of getting the families aware of these resources,” said Davenport who founded ROC: Resources Organized in the Community. “The motion is, let’s get these resource providers known to the community, connected to the community, because there are resources that have been in existence for years, this building has been here for years, but the people have not been coming out.”
Davenport said that as first responders, police are not expected to be a preventative force, leaving it up to the community to create an atmosphere of awareness and resources that may have precluded two young teenagers from their fatal visit to a city park after dark.
“Sometimes we gotta look back at the root cause of the actual incident. Let’s get back to what was happening earlier in the daytime before the incident. Let’s find out what those young men and young people were going through then we can get to the bottom of it.”
There will be a balloon release at Dubarry Park at 3 p.m. Saturday by the family of Da’Vonta White who died along with this friend Isaiah Jackson Monday night.