Community members, police walk together for peace after violent weekend

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- More than a hundred people joined to march for peace in Indianapolis Friday evening following last weekend's violence.

Over a 24 hour time period, six people were killed. Theron Rowley, 31, was shot in the street on the north side. Ezekiel Summers, 19, was killed outside an apartment complex. John Boxley, 76, and 42-year-old Yolanda Bailey were shot and killed at a motorcycle club. Tony Mason, 21, was killed on the east side. Leandre Lane, 17, was walking near 34th and Frankin when he was gunned down.

Following the violence, the Indianapolis Fraternal Order of Police and other community members organized a peace walk starting at 34th and Keystone.

"We just want everybody to still be with us even after this, we just don't want it to stop today," said Aleasha Ross, Lane's god-grandmother.

Officers, city leaders, candidates, residents, community groups and others walked side by side to say enough is enough.

"We gotta let them know gun violence is not the answer to solving the problem," Ross said.

The area to walk was chosen purposefully. It was within a zip code the Indianapolis F.O.P. said is one of the city's most dangerous and where multiple law enforcement officers have also been killed.

"So here's the message, we're all in this together. You know often time, I always say this, the people who have the most skin in the game, if you will, are the people living in the neighborhoods and the officers who are going in there and risking their lives to protect and serve them 24 hours a day," Indianapolis F.O.P. President Rick Snyder said. "Think about what happens, often time somebody else who isn't in that equation shows up and tries to drive a wedge between those two partners ."

Police said they know what's behind the cases and they are not connected. Police said they're watching people strategically this weekend and resources are stepped up.

"Indianapolis is a great city. I think tonight's walk indicates that, and all of us are involved, and it's gonna take a community to drive it down, and just be safe this weekend," Roach said prior to the walk.

But as the walk ended, officers were called to E. 38th St. just a few minutes away for someone else shot.

The African American Coalition of Indianapolis released a statement Friday afternoon signed by 17 different organizations. It stated in part:

We are holding ourselves responsible for advocating for the good work done to change the trajectory of lives by many organizations both known and unheralded. We recognize the need to support both our legacy organizations as well as emerging grassroots organizations who are often closest to the pain. We also recognize that previous interventions have come to our communities and stalled for a variety of reasons creating issues of trust. We believe that the support of minority businesses and entrepreneurship is an underutilized strategy and we will seek to support their advancement moving forward. We also recognize that our youth need safe places to be young that are fun and enriching.

We will no longer keep our private concerns about elected officials to ourselves but speak directly to them about our expectations and aspirations on both sides of the political aisle. The municipal elections cycle must be more than about potholes; they must also be about our social infrastructure and we will demand that all candidates speak to this problem. We will call on our philanthropic system to seriously address systemic issues dealing with poverty, systems of oppression, and racism. We will hold our business community responsible for being good corporate citizens through the conduct of their business, specifically hiring practices. We will support our youth.

The Office of Public Health and Safety said the city is continuing to increase investments in programs. Last year, the office reported $3 million was spent on neighborhood-based crime prevention efforts and that the figure will grow to around $4 million this year. That includes a $300,000 grant program for grassroots organizations working on evidence-based violence prevention.

It's violence that walkers want to drive out, and replace instead with more hope and peace.

"Maybe tonight everybody can get together and have this community as one instead of just running all over the place," Ross said.

Organizers said they hope people walking will take their message into their own neighborhoods, too.

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