INDIANAPOLIS — Sunday’s message from the pulpit at sixteen different member churches of the Indianapolis Urban Pastors Coalition was simple: “Don’t Lose Your Cool”.
“Having a simplistic slogan that is something that everyone at every age level can grasp on to, that’s important for us,” said Erreol Morgan, teen youth leader at New Direction Church on East 38th Street.
The message to the congregations came following a night when at least eight people were shot or stabbed in Indianapolis and two were murdered during the first weekend after Indiana scrapped its gun permit law.
“In states where laws have been passed where everybody is carrying a weapon, you gotta assume everybody has a weapon and is willing to go there,” New Direction’s Pastor Kenneth Sullivan told his parishioners. “In fact, there will be situations where people weren’t going to go there but now they have an option to go there and they will go there.”
One shooting left two people wounded at the Eagle Cove Apartments on Gateway Court during a road rage incident. Pastor Sullivan imagined the types of conversations that lead to heat-of-the-moment shootings.
“‘I ain’t soft. I ain’t no punk. I’m not gonna let you punk me’,” Sullivan imagined those involved said. “How many who said, ‘I’m not gonna let you punk me,’ wish they would’ve let somebody punk them because now they doing 25-to-life? How many people are gone laying in a grave because they didn’t wanna be no punk?”
At least 31 of Indianapolis’ 113 homicide victims in 2022 were under the age of 25 when they were shot or stabbed to death.
“It’s probably gonna take a lot more programs to keep them busy so they won’t just be riding around smoking weed and riding around listening to music, bad music,” said Victor Malone, a 24-year-old church parishioner. “If there’s more activities in the streets to keep kids my age more busy, maybe the violence will go down.”
Last month, a shootout among several young women at an eastside apartment complex left five people wounded and one of those injured women under arrest.
“There’s been a lot of young women who feel the need to be just as aggressive, just as assertive, just as violent as what has historically seen young men portray,” said Morgan. “So, if you spend your whole day looking at social media, looking at different types of violence, whether it’s just arguing or whether its just girlfriend-boyfriend drama, you think that that is the status quo, you think that is the ideal way to conduct yourself.
“It is music that promotes and even celebrates this style of conflict resolution which is not conflict resolution at all and I think because of that our young ladies have decided not to be left out of this mass form of negativity and they’ve jumped right on board.”