Proposal recognizing gun violence as public health danger moves forward

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.-- A proposal to recognize gun violence and violent crime as a public health danger will move forward in the Indianapolis City-County Council after an emotional hearing Wednesday night.

"It's really tough right now," Harry Taliefer's uncle, Jay Thomas, said.

Taliefer was shot and killed last week on the east side while trying to be a peacemaker. In between planning the 13-year old's funeral, his family made time to attend the Indianapolis City-County council's public safety committee meeting to help make sure no other family knows their pain.

"We  have our leaders and not just our community members recognizing and acknowledging that we have issues in our city and we just happen to be the family this week that's touched by it," Taliefer's aunt, Korey Carey, said.

They offered their support for the proposal and shared their story alongside other families touched by violence.

Deandra Yates-Dycus talked about her son, DeAndre Knox, who was shot at a birthday party when he was 13-years old.

"My son survived, he is a non-verbal, quadriplegic and he needs 24-hour care," she told councilors.

Earnestine Havvard shared the story of her son, Clarence Havvard III, who was killed in the Butler-Tarkington area.

"He was gunned down August 26, 2015. And it has changed our whole lives completely," she said.

Maria Mcclendon also spoke. She said her young daughter, Kamor Foy, survived a hit from a stray bullet while walking to a gas station with friends.

"Stop the violence and stay off the streets," Foy said.

Families and councilors became teary eyed at times before the proposal passed, which they say could help open up opportunities for more funding and resources to address systemic issues, like educational programs, mental health and conflict resolution.

"Something that could have possibly saved Harry's life if someone had stepped in to resolve this confrontation before it escalated to the level of murder," Thomas said.

According to the proposal, the city-county council would also state intent to give priority when setting budgets and appropriating funds to initiatives and programs, “that are designed and demonstrate genuine probabilities of success in decreasing gun violence in Marion County." It also says the council would direct the Office of Public Health and Safety to work with the county health department to establish and operate programs and seek funding to alleviate the public health danger."

"Is it going to be an end all for all? No. But it will be a start for us," Councilor La Keisha Jackson, who sponsored the proposal, said.

Next, the proposal goes to the full council for a vote.

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