INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.— Near Tenth and Rural on Sunday evening, two groups of community and religious leaders pray.
They pray to have an impact on the Indianapolis and Kokomo neighborhoods struggling with violence. In the circle is the brother of a teen shot and killed nearby just last week.
The teen, one of many victims of gun already this year, was buried earlier that day.
Violent crime can be found throughout central Indiana. Recently, cities like Muncie and Kokomo have started looking toward Indianapolis to figure out how to tackle their own violent crime.
“This is an issue that goes beyond Indianapolis,” said Reverend Charles Ellis, Indy Ten Point’s executive director. “This is an urban issue, urban centers and anywhere where you find unemployment and poverty.”
Kokomo’s Peace Watch organization went to Indy’s east side to learn from and share ideas with Ten Point.
“When we found out that there was a group that was, I guess you’d say, older and wiser, we figured we better come and check them out,” said Kokomo Peace Watch Vice President Chris Wendt.
Walking streets in and near the Brookside neighborhood, they saw how neighbors and even victims of gun violence responded to the group.
“They’re dealing with a much higher rate of crime than we are,” said Wendt. “We’re seeing similar crime, but they’re working and doing something much more effective and I think we’re here today to kind of go to school.”
Wendt and the others spent the walk picking the brains of Ten Point leaders, hoping to find strategies they could take home.
“They may have to tweak it to their actual dynamic of their community, but by and large there’s some universal principles that we think will work,” said Ellis. “So we think it’s important to connect with them and share the years of our knowledge.”
This week, Indy city-county councillors will take a look at a proposal that would provide $400,000 for crime prevention initiatives.
That kind of money, both groups say, can provide much-needed resources to struggling communities, which in turn would bring down crime.