IndyCAN E-newsletter, November 2017

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Pictured above: Attendees gather together in prayer at the LIVE FREE Youth Action Event.
Pictured below: Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD) Chief Bryan Roach shakes hands with Pastor Michael McBride, director of LIVE FREE USA, after Roach announced his commitment to working with IndyCAN on its violence reduction strategy. (Photos taken by: Jennifer Forrest, CorComm Creative)

Chief Roach commits to Violence Reduction Plan at LIVE FREE Youth Action event

He’s only 27 years old, but Derris Ross, IndyCAN LIVE FREE Fellow and founder of The Ross Foundation, says he’s seen 30 of his friends die due to gun violence in the Indianapolis community — two of them were shot in front of him.

On Tuesday, Oct. 24, Ross, and more than 400 youth and clergy, declared a victory at a LIVE FREE Youth Action event, when Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD) Chief Bryan Roach agreed to follow through with IndyCAN’s Indianapolis Violence Reduction Plan (IVRP) 2.0.

What is IVRP?

IVRP was originally launched in Indianapolis in the 1990s in response to a surge of gun-related homicides. The strategy was to identify the chronic offenders most at-risk for committing violence and hold meetings with them to communicate the consequences of violating the law. The IVRP strategy resulted in a 34.3-percent reduction of monthly homicides, a 38.1-percent reduction in gang-related homicides and a 48-percent reduction in homicides involving 15- to 24-year-olds.

Other cities that have enacted IVRP-like strategies have also seen a successful drop in homicides, including a 55-percent drop in Stockton, Calif., a 60-percent drop in Richmond, Calif., a 42-percent drop in Camden, N.J., and a 33-percent drop in Baton Rouge, La.

While the initial IVRP program was successful, Ross is careful to point out that the strategy must be revamped for today’s youth.

“The mayor and Chief Roach are on the right path bringing back IVRP,” he said. “In the last two decades, cities that implement IVRP-like strategies learned a lot about what it takes to drop gun violence and keep it down. But we can’t just dust off the old playbook, we’ve got to re-tool IVRP for today’s youth.”

IVRP 2.0: Chief Roach’s Commitment to Upgrade

The cities that achieved the most dramatic drops in gun violence and sustained those results share five key elements. Chief Roach committed to work with IndyCAN to put these elements in place in the next six months:

  1. A full-time staff dedicated to the violence reduction strategy.
  2. Real job opportunities for youth wanting to leave street life.
  3. Service provider teams that will connect youth to housing, education and other resources that will help them leave street life.
  4. Street outreach workers who have successfully left street life and want to serve as trusted advisors to people escalating violence.
  5. The creation of policies designed to build trust between law enforcement and the community that ensure routine police stops do not end in death, ICE detention or incarceration.

To date, Indianapolis has seen 139 homicides this year. IndyCAN has set a goal to cut homicides in half, and, with the help of Ross and other impassioned youth and community leaders on its side, success seems to be in sight.

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Pictured above: Episcopal clergy leaders from PICO federations across the country gathered for a photo to celebrate their solidarity at the Prophetic Resistance Summit. (Photo credit: Corie Farnsley, CorComm Creative)

Bonded in solidarity:

More than 300 faith leaders gather for Prophetic Resistance Summit in Indianapolis

The energy in the room was palpable. More than 300 prominent faith leaders and tribal elders from around the country were bonded in solidarity, with a determination to plan a prophetic uprising leading up to the 2018 mid-term elections.

“This is about us getting clear collectively that we want to dismantle white supremacy,” said the Rev. Michael-Ray Mathews, PICO National Network’s director of clergy organizing. “We want to also transform the systems that shape the lives of us and the people in our communities.”

Our nation’s systems are broken. And over the course of three days, PICO National Network’s Prophetic Resistance Summit attendees prepared to build their own congregations, communities, faith networks and federations to be prophetic spiritual leaders nationwide. The summit was held in Indianapolis.

“President Trump’s rhetoric has created an environment where those who spread hate are validated, coddled and protected,” said the Rev. Traci Blackmon, Executive Minister of Justice and Witness Ministries of the United Church of Christ and senior pastor of Christ the King UCC in Florissant, Mo., one of the event’s speakers. “Our role as faith leaders is to denounce the sins of our nation, sins that push our black and brown brothers and sisters to the margins, leaving them in fear for their lives."

Rabbi Sharon Brous, senior and founding rabbi of California-based IKAR and the keynote speaker for the summit’s opening day, spoke emphatically about the wrongs that are accepted in today’s society and encouraged righteous resistance of immoral policies that are rooted in racism.

“We’ve been stuck in a kind of reactive mode, suffering from a sort of daily whiplash that’s been happening in this country — a daily assault on what we all know to be just and right,” said Rabbi Brous. “That has left many of us with an overwhelming sense of not only incredulity but of personal fragility. We’re worried about our loved ones, our families, our communities and our nation.”

Clergy, faith leaders and others have been discussing civil disobedience and disruption as possible strategies to urge policymakers to create legislation that benefits the whole. The goal is to insert a moral core that puts families first by changing the tide through local, state and national elections.

“We can no longer sit on the sidelines as the floodwaters of injustice roll over our families,” said Rev. Clarence C. Moore, IndyCAN pastor of New Era Church in Indianapolis. “My prayer is that the work we commit to [at the summit] ends the legacy of white supremacy — from mass incarceration to deportation — rather than passing it on to the next generation.”

The summit positioned people of faith to successfully adopt a theology of resistance that includes electoral engagement and voter outreach.

In Indiana, faith leaders plan to hold 100,000 conversations with voters largely bypassed by campaigns and parties, in what is expected to be the largest volunteer-led voter education program of a decade. In its success, it will build a new block of religious voters committed to hold candidates running for office accountable to a racial- and economic-justice policy agenda that puts families first.

For more on this event:

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Cassidy-Graham is defeated, but health care still in danger

Cassidy-Graham was another effort by President Donald Trump to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Once again, IndyCAN and its leaders acted to protect vulnerable families, and, on Sept. 26, Medicaid and Medicare dependents across the country celebrated the defeat of the Cassidy-Graham bill. Legislators announced that the vote was canceled after three GOP lawmakers said they would vote against it.

While acknowledging this step as a victory, IndyCAN leaders urge people to stay vigilant, as the Affordable Care Act, Medicare and Medicaid are still in danger.

Following the failure of the Cassidy-Graham bill, Trump signed an executive order on Thursday, Oct. 12, directing a trio of federal agencies to rewrite rules that would allow association health care plans (formerly only available to small business employees) to be larger and sold across state lines.

Unlike Obamacare, Trump supporters say the plans would have no minimum coverage requirements, allowing for cheaper premiums. However, Obamacare supporters say this change could have disastrous effects, including:

  • The development of cheap, loosely regulated plans that would be exempt from Obamacare rules that require plans to cover prescription drugs and pre-existing conditions.
  • Rising Obamacare premiums for older and sicker patients, due to the younger, healthy Americans leaving Obamacare for cheaper plans.

While experts say people likely won’t see the effects of Trump’s executive order until mid-2018, Trump and other GOP leaders are gathering together to try another stealthy tactic — pass a tax plan that would give $1.5 trillion in tax cuts to the rich, while casually cutting funding to health care programs needed by our country’s most vulnerable.

How could Trump’s new tax plan sabotage my health care?

  • It adds $1.5 trillion to the country’s deficit to provide the richest one percent and corporations big tax breaks. This deficit increase could then create the justification for big cuts to the Medicare, Medicaid, SNAP and other vital services.
  • Nearly $470 billion would be cut from Medicare, and $1.3 trillion from Medicaid and other health care programs
  • This slash to health care funding would affect 1.4 million Hoosiers who depend on Medicaid, including 225,400 people with disabilities, 727,100 children and 103,600 seniors. It will also affect more than 1.2 million Hoosiers who depend on Medicare.
  • The plan slashes taxes on profits that corporations earn offshore, while taxing profits earned here at a much higher rate. This will encourage corporations to send even more jobs and profits offshore.

Tell our senators to reject tax reform!

  • Call Senator Donnelly - (202) 224-4814
  • Call Senator Young - (202) 224-5623

Tell them: “Don’t fall for this sneak attack on families! Reject the tax plan and its efforts to hurt millions of people!"

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Immigrants living in fear:

A 20-year Indianapolis resident fights to stay with his family

It was November 2015, when Indianapolis resident Jesus Hernandez (pictured on far left in photo with his family) crashed his car into a utility pole, was arrested and was charged with a DUI (driving under the influence).

Even though he was released by a Marion County court (an act only possible if the court determines one is not a public safety threat), Jesus was taken into custody by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and placed into deportation proceedings. Just two days before Thanksgiving, he was sent to Juneau, Wisc., to await trial.

Thanks to organizing and a flood of calls from IndyCAN volunteers and parishioners from Jesus’ home parish, St. Monica’s Catholic Church, Jesus was released within three days with a trial date delayed until 2020. Although his family was thankful to have him home, they did express their concern for his future.

“I’m unsure of what the future has in store for [my dad],” said his son, Jesus Hernandez, Jr. “Only time will tell.”

Since President Donald Trump’s inauguration, Hernandez’s case was moved up, and he went before a judge last Wednesday, Nov. 1, in Chicago. He was not alone. IndyCAN’s accompaniment team traveled to Chicago, carrying the prayers of hundreds back home, and it paid off — Jesus was given another five months. While it’s a reason to celebrate, the fast-tracking is a clear example of this administration’s focus on deportation, not families.

Take Action to Prevent Deportations!

As the deportation battle continues, there is one bill that could make a huge difference to young immigrants who came to the U.S. as minors. Passage of the DREAM Act — an acronym for Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors — is the Dreamers' last hope. While DACA benefits include a temporary, two-year work authorization, a Social Security number and a driver’s license, the DREAM Act would enable Dreamers to obtain permanent resident status with official green cards if they meet certain guidelines.

Call your congressional leaders. Tell them to keep families together by supporting the passage of a clean DREAM Act and end hate policy for good.

  • Congresswoman Susan Brooks – (202) 225-2276
  • Senator Joe Donnelly – (202) 224-4814
  • Senator Todd Young – (202) 224-5623

Sign up to be a Rapid Responder. The Solidarity Hotline, formerly known as IndyCAN Watch, is a phone hotline for individuals to call if they are confronted by ICE or traumatized by local law enforcement. Rapid Responders receive special training to respond to these calls by providing immediate, on-site support to the callers and their families. Sign up today!

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  • The Homegoing of Pastor John Davis
    IndyCAN joins countless others in the community to mourn the loss of Pastor John C. Davis, III, of Sanders Temple Church of God in Christ, who passed away on Sunday, Sept. 24. As a prominent leader with IndyCAN and in his community, Pastor Davis led campaigns to end mass incarceration and gun violence, restore hope in his community and bring economic opportunities to the most vulnerable. We are so honored and thankful to have known him and to have seen the positive impact of his life’s work. Please join us in keeping Pastor Davis’ family — his wife, Vernica, their four daughters and one son — in your thoughts and prayers.
  • Announcing our new
    Communications Director!

    We are excited to announce the appointment of our newest team member, Francine Dash, our new communications director. Francine holds a bachelor’s degree in telecommunications from Indiana University – Bloomington and a master’s in Information and Communications Sciences from Ball State University. She brings more than 24 years of marketing and communications experience to this role, and she’s excited to have gotten started.

    "Empowering the community, engaging leaders and supporting effective partnerships are essential to the work we do,” Francine says. “IndyCAN has already done so much to achieve this goal, by addressing issues affecting Indiana families, from health care and immigration to jobs and incarceration reform. My hope is to continue to increase the awareness of those issues and others and to work toward highlighting solutions that improve the quality of life for all citizens in our state."
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