Community forum brings west side together against gun violence

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Gun violence was the topic of conversation tonight at the Haughville branch of the Indianapolis Public Library. Local organizations and IMPD met with neighbors to hear their concerns and their ideas on stopping the violence.

“We've had a significant amount of violence earlier in the year specifically in this neighborhood, and the majority of all those have been committed with guns," said IMPD Southwest District Commander Susan Hill.

Today at the library, talking is encouraged. Community members on the west side are looking for solutions. They say they're tired of seeing so many young people lost to gun violence and tired of seeing so many families grieve.

“Every evening when I’m watching the news and I see another mother lose their child, it’s a very painful process for me," said Sabrinna Stennette. "It's like you live it over and over again."

It’s been more than 7 years since Stennette lost her son Andre. He and his brother were gunned down in Indianapolis while driving home from a concert. It was just one of 97 murders in Indy that year alone.

"It’s not just that one person that you take you really take out a whole community when you do something like that,“ Stennette said.

Coming together with law enforcement and the community, this forum on gun rights and gun violence is a series starting the conversation; looking for answers to solve the problem.

“We’re hoping to find another resolution to conflict than pulling out a gun and shooting someone,” Hill said.

Overwhelmingly, parents demanded more education. One that includes gun safety, and also a future that doesn’t lead to violence.

“You don't need a weapon, you need job skills,” said pastor Eli Johnson during the panel.

There wasn’t just one solution or one idea, but if there’s one thing Stennette wants people to remember, it’s that behind each murder is a person … and a family left to grieve.

"If you hear something in that forum that can save the life of someone then that’s really what we’re here for," Stennette said.

The forum was part of a series of community conversations hosted on by the library. It was sponsored by the Indiana Healthy Marriage and Family Coalition.

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