Indianapolis leaders join pastors in praying to end violence

Indianapolis political and civic leaders entered this year once again calling on the community to end the violence, this time with a week of prayer and fasting to call attention to the record-breaking homicide rate in the city.

The Indianapolis Urban Pastors Coalition, a group of religious leaders focused primarily in or near the Far East that formed last June, joined Mayor Joe Hogsett and county councilors in announcing a series of prayer services from Monday January 10 to Monday. , January 17.

“When we quietly reflect on the challenges facing our city and our neighbors, we are able to reconnect with the spirit of community that has been so damaged over the past two years,” Hogsett said at a conference. press at New Direction Baptist Church. on the east side.

Councilors Keith Graves, left to right, and La Keisha Jackson join others in prayer during a press conference on Monday, January 10, 2022 at New Direction Church, initiating a week of prayer in Indianapolis.  The Indianapolis Urban Pastors Coalition (IUPC) is taking a stand against violence in the city by calling for the week of prayer and fasting to begin in the new year.

The announcement comes as Indianapolis ends a record year of homicides – in November, the city surpassed the previous homicide record of 245 and ended the year with 271, according to preliminary year-end data from the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department.

The new year also marks the first of a massive three-year effort to fight crime using part of the $ 419 million in federal bailout funding the city will receive.

More than a third of this funding – $ 150 million – will cover an anti-violence program that officials hope will reduce crime.

This program, in conjunction with city funding, will increase the number of city peacemakers to 50, add 100 new police officers, and increase the amount of annual crime prevention grants by approximately five times, from from about $ 3 million per year to $ 15 million.

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City leaders have repeatedly stressed that the community must also be involved in the fight to stop the killings. Also during the pandemic, Hogsett noted that other cities have also seen an increase in homicides.

“Even in a record year of investing in the root causes of violence and law enforcement, the city values ​​one thing above all else: we don’t and can’t act alone,” said Hogsett .

The coalition also highlighted various programs offered by the religious community, including a summer employment program for teens at New Direction and a mentorship program at New Revelation Christian Church.

“It will take all of us to work together, not only from senior positions, but also in local efforts to bring resolutions to the challenges facing our city,” said Pastor Richard Reynolds, vice president of the new coalition.

Pastor Kenneth Sullivan Jr., center, prays with others after the Monday, Jan. 10, 2022 press conference at New Direction Church, initiating a week of prayer in Indianapolis.  The Indianapolis Urban Pastors Coalition (IUPC) is taking a stand against violence in the city by calling for the week of prayer and fasting to begin in the new year.

Republicans at Statehouse frustrated by the increase in the number of homicides under the Democratic administration, introduced a series of bills to curtail obligations, set new standards for electronic surveillance, and create a new crime reduction council headed by the IMPD.

Republican Minority Council Leader Brian Mowery said a week of prayer to curb violence was a welcome effort, but said the prosecutor must also do his job.

“It almost seems Indianapolis has become a haven for criminals because they won’t be prosecuted,” Mowery said. “We have to have a prosecutor who is going to step in and do their job and prosecute these criminals to get them off the streets.”

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Mowery said the Republican legislation at the Statehouse was a step in the right direction.

“We cannot be a city of violence and crime and murder and expect these great conventions to want to continue in Indianapolis as they have done so far,” he said. “It’s only a matter of time before they start seeing our numbers and realize Indianapolis may not be the safest place to go for their convention.”

When asked about the various pieces of legislation, however, Hogsett focused solely on gun violence – noting a new bill that eliminate the permit requirement for people carrying a handgun.

“This is not the right direction in which we should be going,” he said. “I think there are other common sense ideas … more background checks, more penalties for buying straw, filling gun show gaps. There are a myriad of different ways to get more guns illegally possessed on the streets. ”

IndyStar reporter Lawrence Andrea contributed to this story.

Call IndyStar reporter Amelia Pak-Harvey at 317-444-6175 or email her at [email protected]. Follow her on twitter @AmeliaPakHarvey.

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