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Indianapolis youth design billboards with powerful messages to help curb violence

anti violence billboards
Posted at 12:01 AM, Jan 21, 2022

INDIANAPOLIS — Local teenagers are lending their words to the anti-violence movement in Indianapolis and you may see their messages on your drive to and from work.

The Marion County Prosecutor's Office unveiled a youth-led billboard campaign that aims to change perceptions and steer people away from violence.

A billboard asking "what is actually behind the violence?" will be placed in low crime areas for educational purposes, hoping to change the narrative.

Another saying "we are powerful, beautiful, family, human" will be placed in hot spot crime areas.

"I want people to express to their kids, their neighbors and have a discussion just about what these billboards actually mean — why they were put up, why should we pay attention to them, why it's important to care about us and our community and what's happening right now," said Shaniece Brown, 17.

Brown says if people pay attention to the messages on the billboards, lives will be saved.

"We would have less kids dying, we will have less families crying," she said.

Brown knows first-hand how violence in a community and efforts to make a difference can impact kids.

"Even though I was around a lot of violence, I was also around people who were changing, people who need help. I was impacted, but I was inspired," said Brown.

Brown, along with three other young adults from the Indianapolis nonprofit VOICES Corp, worked on designing and creating the billboards.

They reached out to Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears hoping to use their life experiences to help others understand what they believe are the root causes of violence: poverty, trauma, survival, societal pressure and lack of access.

Mears partnered with City-County Council Vice President Zach Adamson and Reagan Outdoor to create 25 billboards throughout Indianapolis.

"This will drive an intelligent conversation about the challenges we are facing but it starts with the ability to listen to people, listen to our young people who have great ideas," said Mears.

"It's more than a billboard," said Destiny Hatcher, who worked on the project.

"The goal behind the root causes was to hopefully promote a message of having people be less judgmental and a little more educated and understand why violence happens and then the affirmation billboard: you are great, you are amazing," said Brandon Randall, Director of Engagement with VOICES Corp.

"If any of these 25 billboards positioned throughout the market can start a conversation about compassion, love and community, we have succeeded in the first steps in providing a safer community," said Bill Platko, Reagan Outdoor's general manager.

The billboards will be on display at the following locations:

Site at (Face: Site)

Facing (Face)

2203 Troy Av E; Keystone Av

East

2018 Morris St; Belmont Av

West

2805 Kentucky Av; Tibbs Av

North

4685 Mann Rd 7; I-465 ES

South

4180 Rockville Rd;  Gasoline Alley

East

7302 Rockville Rd; Girls School Rd

West

1815 10th St; Elder Av

West

8205 10th St;  Country Club Rd

East

3201 16th St; Tibbs Av

West

3363 Capitol Av; 34th St

North

3212 Dr King Blvd; I-65

North

2030 Lafayette Rd; Cold Springs Rd

North

3918 Washington St E; Sherman Dr

East

7030 10th St E; Shadeland Av

West

3717 25th St E; Sherman Dr

East

6331 30th St E; Arlington Av

West

2301 38th St E; Keystone Av

East

9919 38th St E; Mitthoeffer Rd

West

2601 46th St E ; Allisonville Rd

East

2170 54th St E  Keystone Av

East

5699 71st St E; SR 37

East

3859 College Av;  38th St

North

3266 Dr Andrew Brown Av; 32nd St

South

4108 Keystone Av; Millersville Rd

North

5602 Keystone Av N; 56th St

South

3523 Arlington Av N;  34th St

North

2009 Massachusetts Av;  Commerce

West

8105 Pendleton Pike; Franklin Rd

East

4400 Allisonville Rd;44th St

South

I-65 N 1.5 mi; 71st St

North