Church group preaches message of crime prevention to Indy’s next mayor

October 16, 2015 | WISHTV | Link to Article


INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – People fed up with violence and the justice system are pleading with Indy’s next mayor to make a change.

IndyCAN, which stands for Indy Congregation Action Network, held a town hall meeting to present ideas used in other cities struggling with crime.

Mayoral candidates Joe Hogsett and Chuck Brewer both were invited. Hogsett didn’t attend but Brewer did.

In the crowd were other leaders tasked with curbing crime, and the community inside hopes they were listening.

“We know that we have an issue of violence in our city,” Rev. Juard Barnes said to the crowd at New Direction Christian Church.

It’s a message built unfortunately through experience.

“You know somebody who is affected by some type of criminal justice act within our city,” another speaker said while on stage.

Inside the church, people of all ages and religions were united in their desire to stop the violence in Indianapolis, and reduce the next step which is often jail time.

“Jobs, not jails,” said Shannon MacVean-Brown, Dean of Christ Chuch Cathedral. “We need to really work on getting people to be able to have jobs (and) sustain them. That gives them decent housing.”

Nobody knows that better than Edward Ball who was in the crowd. He said he had just gotten out of prison after committing at least 10 felonies ranging from robbery to gun charges. He said landing a job with the help of Goodwill is the reason he’s here tonight – and not on the streets.

“The prosecutor actually said that once I got out, somebody’s going die, that I’m going to continue this violence,” he said. “That job, I think, saved me.”

Work programs weren’t the only idea discussed at the town hall meeting. The crowd, which included IMPD Chief Rick Hite and U.S. District Attorney Josh Minkler, listened to Greg Baker. He was the executive director of the Cincinnati Initiative to Reduce Violence (CIRV). The objective helped cut homicides in his city by 30 percent. He said part of the reason for that was having the police force target their efforts on gangs and clicks.

“(Clicks) are not highly organized, but because of their loose-knit nature, they’re highly volatile,” he said. Baker said although those specific criminals only made up less than 1 percent of Cincinnati’s population, they accounted for 75 percent of the homicides as either a victim or a suspect.

The event was sponsored by the Department of Justice. IndyCAN said Indianapolis was one of only five cities in the nation to get the opportunity.

IndyCAN said over the next six weeks it plans to meet with 10,000 voters to make sure that that when they visit the polls in November, crime and preventing mass incarceration is on the top of their minds.