Leader says “army of ex-gang members” could help curb violence

Rev. Charles Harrison (WISH Photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – The shooting death of a 16-year-old boy Thursday has caught the attention of anti-violence groups.

They’re worried the murder has gang ties, which could lead to more violence not only in the city, but in and around Marion County.

Crime stoppers, along with IMPD and the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office, are trying to educate parents and adults about the signs of gang violence.

But there’s one group that feels hearing from those who lived that dangerous – criminal lifestyle – is the best way to put a stop to this deadly problem.

“It’s a lot of people in Indianapolis that think like that ‘oh that’s another one gone, it ain’t mines,’ no. Regardless if it’s not your child, it’s your child because it’s in our community,” said Duane White.

He fears his community is spiraling in a dark and deadly direction. Thursday night, eight people in Indianapolis were murdered.

One of the lives lost was a 16-year-old Quinton Nance who was gunned down in an alley.

White was there Thursday night not as a witness, but as an advocate for peace. He’s a member of the Ten Point Coalition, a group that walks the neighborhoods where crime scene tape and flashing lights are a common sight.

But, he used to walk the same streets as a criminal. White was in a gang until a stint behind bars made him turn his life around.

“If we had more people like Duane on the streets all over this city, then we would not see as many of our young people involved in this kind of violence in our city,” said reverend Charles Harrison, Ten Point Coalition.

Crime Stoppers is trying a different tactic, hosting a Gang Prevention and Intervention workshop.

Lt. Michael Edler is a member of IMPD’s gang unit and hopes to coach parents about some warning signs.

“Changes in the child’s behavior to look for or especially maybe the graffiti and things like that to look for in the community or when they doodle on their notebooks and things like that,” he said.

Harrison likes the idea, but feels investing in people like White would have the biggest impact.

“If we took an army of ex-offenders and gang members and put them in these hot spots we would not see the violence at the level we’re seeing it at. Matter of fact, we would see a significant reduction,” he said.

Reverend Harrison says he has more than 100 applications from people like White who want to get in the neighborhoods and turn people away from a life a crime. He wants to create that “army of ex-offenders” who can reach out to troubled youth.  But he says without adequate funding, building that army can’t happen.

The Gang Prevention and Intervention Workshop will be held Saturday, March 15 at the Renaissance School, 8931 E. 30th Street, from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m.  It is an adult only event. To find out more information and to register call 317-327-7955.

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