On the road to recovery

Indiana communities coming together after tragedy

It seems as though whenever you turn on the news or read the newspaper, there is another story about violence in our city. Earlier this summer, 2,300 Hoosiers paid their respects to Officer Perry Renn, the 51-year-old officer killed in the line of duty on July 5. After the violent death of Officer Ron Bradway in September of last year, this procession for a fallen hero is sadly familiar.

Over the past several months, Indianapolis has seen a surge in violent crime. As of May 30, 70 people had been killed in our city. With all of this information, many predict a grim future for Indianapolis. But, it doesn’t have to be.

Several community organizations are doing their part to tackle the growing problem with violence within our city.  The Young Men, Inc. Youth Ministry, branching out of Great Commission Church of God is spreading the message of peace throughout our city. Since 1993, director Reverend Malachi Walker has been helping African American males ages 9 through 16 develop the leadership skills necessary to have a positive impact in their communities. For nineteen years, this organization has hosted a camp which empowers young men to be leaders in their communities through programs teaching conflict resolution, leadership development and community service.

Further, Regina Marsh of the Forest Manor Multi-Service Center, along with 60 different community organizations, has spent the last 10 months leading an effort to encourage Indianapolis residents to take a stand against violence in our city. This effort includes training on how to stop conflicts before they escalate into violence, focusing specifically on conflicts within communities.

In April of this year, Marsh told WTHR “This is an opportunity to become an interrupter before it happens. How to safely have a conversation about interrupting – conflict resolution. No matter what word we put on it, its conflict resolution.” Through this training, Marsh hopes to encourage people to help their neighbors and other community members to solve any problem they may have peacefully.

With the recent death of Officer Renn, Indianapolis residents are doing their part to show support for the IMPD through their porch lights. Throughout the city, people have been replacing their normal bulb in their porch lights with blue bulbs not only as a silent way to remember Officer Renn, but to symbolize that they are taking a stand against the violence in our city.

While it may sometimes be discouraging to listen to the news and to hear of the crimes taking place in our city, it is important to remember the people who are doing their part to make our city safe for everyone. It is also important for all of us to do our part to ensure that conflicts do not get out of hand, and to spread the message that violence is not the answer. Indianapolis is a wonderful city filled with opportunities. Our city’s recent struggle with crime should not overshadow this fact.

As we move forward from our recent setbacks, we, as a city should give thanks to Reverend Walker, Regina Marsh and the many others, including the IMPD officers who risk their lives every day, who are doing their part to make our city as safe and great as we know it can be.