INDIANAPOLIS — As the country is gripped in the debate on what to do about mass shooting after mass shooting – some are turning to politicians for the answers and solutions.
Meanwhile, community activists here in Indy are working on their own solutions from a grass roots, community based approach.
”We have so many people who have a lot to say but nobody is putting in the work out here,” said James Wilson, the CEO of Circle Up Indy.
Wilson is one of the people putting in the work. He added there are many people and organizations across Indy who are working in the community as well, and there is always room for more.
”We got to stop looking to the politicians to solve what’s going on directly in our community,” Wilson said.
Circle Up Indy focuses on connecting the community with resources to boost education, employment, mental health and more through events like the Peace Festival.
”If we can really invest and develop one another that minimizes the issue of violence because there is opportunity that we ourselves provide,” Wilson said.
Whether it be the gun violence we see weekly in Indianapolis or the mass shootings taking national headlines – Wilson said solutions are community driven.
”It’s bothersome when we keep trying to look to the politicians for the solutions when the solutions, again, is right here in our home,” he said.
There are many organizations working to bring the community together, big and small, across Indy.
”Bring the community together, bring everybody together and let them know, ‘Hey, it takes us to stop what’s going on our communities,'” said Robert Booker, who started Reaching Our Brothers Inc.
In the summer of 2021, Booker started hosting monthly cookouts outside of an apartment on the far east side.
”Just bringing everybody together in stable, social environment where we don’t have to worry about hurting each other or talking to one another in a bad way that would start the violence in our neighborhood,” Booker said.
Booker said he created a safe environment for the community and was feeding a hundred families a month.
”Giving the community something to look forward to beside seeing all the violence,” he said.
Booker has expanded the cookouts with the Safe Summer Community BBQ. He plans to have one each month at different locations across the far east side. He had his first one on Saturday at the Ross Center.
”All you see is fun, you see the kids having fun, you see everybody having a good time,” Booker said.
Booker said he’s an example of how it just takes one person to start something that can make a difference.
”If I can do it, everybody can do it,” he said.
Both Booker and Wilson said they believe there are ways legislation could help gun violence but they want to work in the community now rather on waiting for something that may or may not happen.