INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - Following a community violence reduction forum last week, Ten Point Coalition leaders launched a Twitter campaign blasting Mayor Joe Hogsett’s administration for allegedly cutting them out of the battle against crime in Indianapolis.
“As long as some elected officials in this city continue to put their efforts into trying the (sic) stop @Indytenpoint Indy will never get control of the violence in the city. Working together works!” tweeted Rev. Charles Harrison, Ten Point’s Indianapolis founder.
“The city doesn’t seem like it wants to work with us and get us at the table,” said Harrison, who put the blame on Hogsett’s advisors. “We’ve been doing this kind of work for twenty years now, so we have been through Mayor Peterson, Mayor Goldsmith, Mayor Ballard, and we have always been at the table and for the first time, we are not at the table... and I think we can be helpful. We’re helping other cities across the country and we can help our city also.”
During the Ballard years, Ten Point received more than $800,000 in city funds, according to a recent examination by the Indianapolis Star.
When Hogsett came into office in 2016, funding to Ten Point was halted due to the group’s alleged inability to quantify the success it was claiming in reducing crime in Indianapolis neighborhoods.
“We hear, one, ‘What you do doesn’t work, we can’t prove that you’re responsible for reduction in homicides and non-fatal shootings,’ but then, we see the city using some of the pieces of Ten Point and modeling themselves like doing the public safety walks with the mayor and police chief. Well, we been doing that for years and now hiring peacemakers and putting the peacemakers on the streets, which is what we’ve been doing for years in this city,” said Harrison.
Last Wednesday at Douglass Park, Mayor Hogsett was joined in his monthly neighborhood walk with IMPD Chief Bryan Roach and his newly hired Community Violence Reduction Coordinator Shonna Majors. Majors commented she was on the verge of hiring the mayor’s first two of four neighborhood peacemakers.
“I think the work that Ten Point Coalition is doing is something local that we can look at,” said Majors, “I am happy to reach out to all community organizations that are doing this work.”
Majors had just concluded a meeting with a start-up east side grass roots organization she met at last week’s forum that was seeking guidance on how to apply for Hogsett community violence reduction grants.
“I encourage anyone and everyone to apply for the grants we have open,” she said. “As a taxpayer myself, it's important for me to see where my tax dollars are going and what work is happening and what’s working, so I know that we can’t capture everything that everyone does in a data format. This grant will allow us to do that and to get data from the groups that are doing the work out here so that we can show our taxpayers that their dollars are going to a good cause and not just we don’t know what happened to the money.”
Harrison admitted the type of work his group does is hard to explain on a spreadsheet.
“We spend a lot of time defusing conflicts in the streets, so we do a lot of street mediation so that it doesn’t end up in some sort of violence whether it be a stabbing or some sort of gunplay,” he said. “We have boosted the morale and improved morale of neighborhoods.
“I think we could train other groups that want to do what we do as far as street engagement. How do you mobilize neighborhoods? How do you go into these neighborhoods and deracialize the policing that needs to take place?
“If you’re gonna use the model, why not use the individuals that created the model and if you want to expand it to other parts of the city, why not use the group that created the model to help other groups and neighborhoods across the city do it and do it effectively?”
Harrison said he has visited 27 cities in the eastern United States to introduce the Indy Ten Point strategy.
He says one neighborhood in Gary is the most advanced in utilizing the techniques honed in Indianapolis.
Currently, there are two grant deadlines for community groups seeking city funding for anti-violence programs.
July 6 is the date for applications for the $300,000 in grants made available under Hogsett’s violence reduction plan announced last fall with the first money expected to be awarded within a month.
The Indianapolis Foundation, an affiliate of the Central Indiana Community Foundation, has a July 31 deadline for applications for $2 million in community crime prevention grants, allocated by the mayor and the City County Council, with that money to be doled out in late September.