Indianapolis peace coalition encouraged after meeting with federal partners about violence in the city

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INDIANAPOLIS — The City of Peace Coalition felt encouraged after meeting with federal partners on Thursday about violence in the city. Crime reduction leaders met with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to discuss the prevalence of crime guns and their connection to homicides in Indianapolis.

The meeting came one day after three people were shot and killed in Indianapolis within a few hours.

Every day, Olgen Williams passes a memorial in Haughville that honors the life of a 23-year-old man who was shot and killed in May. It is a grim reminder of the surging number of criminal homicides in the city.

That memorial represents one of at least 109 intentional homicides so far in 2020. That’s 34 more intentional homicides than the same time period last year.

“One life lost is one too many,” said Williams.

Williams grew up in Haughville and tirelessly worked with clergy and police to combat crime here years ago. Today he is member of a new organization called the City of Peace Coalition. That coalition is made up of seasoned crime prevention and reduction leaders including pastors, retired officers, and city leaders.

Last week, the group marched during a peace walk on the north side. Now they are looking at partners on the federal level to find more ways to make the community safer.

“On the vast, vast, vast majority of murders, they are done by an individual that has no legal right to possess a gun,” said U.S. Attorney Josh Minkler.

U.S. Attorney Minkler told them roughly 80 percent of murders in Indianapolis involve a gun and there’s a strong connection between the city’s homicides and the number of illegal firearms on its streets.

On an annual basis, he said law enforcement finds 4,000 crime guns in Indianapolis. That is half of the crime guns found in the entire state.

“70 percent of those gun murders are committed by suspects who have no legal right under federal law to possess a gun,” he said.

He believes partnerships with groups like this coalition are crucial. U.S. Attorney Minkler said support from the community helps police get guns out of the hands of criminals.

“The community knows who these individuals are. By working with law enforcement, we get those individuals off the street and drive down the amount of shootings and gun violence,” he said.

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