Neighborhood uses peace march to celebrate drop in crime

The Butler Tarkington neighborhood held a peace march Thursday, celebrating 100 days without a homicide. (WISH photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – A north side community is hoping to set a positive example after being surrounded by so much violence last year.

The Butler Tarkington neighborhood held a peace march Thursday, celebrating 100 days without a homicide.

Neighbors credit their own hard work, IMPD executing specific initiatives, and both of them partnering to achieve the same goal.

“We did 100 (days), let’s do 200,” said Rev. Charles Harrison to the people huddled around him at 40th and Boulevard Place.

Even a cold winter day couldn’t stop the warm-hearted group from taking another step in the right direction.

“It’s 20 degrees out here today and they’re out here walking together to show they’re unified,” said IMPD North District Commander Chris Bailey.

Several neighbors and members of the Ten Point Coalition marched through the Butler Tarkington neighborhood. The peaceful patrol was a symbol of how far they’ve come after a deadly 2015, which saw their neighborhood often become a crime scene.

“I didn’t want to come to work and know (there’s) so much crime in the neighborhood and then it made my customers fearful for coming over here,” said Janice Neal-Sargent. She owns a salon nearby, right around the corner from one of the neighborhood’s most infamous crimes.

Last October, 10-year-old DeShawn Swanson was killed in a drive by shooting.

It was one of several murders that inspired the people marching Thursday to take back their neighborhood. They patrolled their neighborhood on foot in groups. IMPD had officers working overtime and patrolling on various shifts to keep criminals off guard.

Now the proof of their persistence is measured by 100 days without another life lost.

“We know that the only way we can make sustainable change in the neighborhood is if the community stands up and says they’ve had enough. And those in this neighborhood have said that,” said Commander Bailey.

Former IMPD Chief Rick Hite also participated in the event. He said even in retirement, serving his community is something that will never stop.

“You retire but you don’t lose the energy, the love to bring about peace in the community,” he said. “I think the people in this community need to know that we care.”

Besides a drop in murders, IMPD said drug activity has also slowed down. Homeowners and business owners say the feel much safer now.

“I want to let people know that together we are stronger and that you know I represent this neighborhood and I want the neighborhood safe,” said Neal-Sargent. “So when we come out and show that, it makes other neighborhoods maybe want to come together and do the same thing.”

“When the neighborhood stood up…those who are committing the violence and crime kind of either went underground or left the area and that’s a success,” said Rev. Harrison.

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