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'I have to do something': Community groups on stopping gun violence in Indianapolis

'Wear Orange' Weekend and National Gun Violence Awareness Day
Wear Orange Campaign
Posted at 5:33 PM, Jun 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-03 19:02:27-04

EVENTS AGAINST GUN VIOLENCE PLANNED ACROSS STATE AMID 2021 RECORD HOMICIDES IN INDY — INDIANAPOLIS — Starting Friday, neighbors from around Indianapolis, the state, and even the country will come together to push for an end to gun violence.

It's part of "Wear Orange" — a violence prevention effort that started in 2015. It comes as Indianapolis saw a record-breaking year in 2021 for homicides.

On Friday, the dozens gathered at the canal sporting orange, including Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett and Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears. Both spoke about common-sense gun laws and safety measures. Moms Demand Action did too, adding the need for conversations and action to create change.

"They [lawmakers] can wield the urgency of this moment where the stark choice is between more life or more death," Hogsett said.

Moms like Kiona Jones shared her own experience of losing her 15-year-old son — Khalil Bankhead — in Indianapolis to gun violence in October of 2019.

“Gun violence is a choice. Everything we do is a choice," Jones said.

According to WRTV data, the city has seen 90 homicides in 2022 as of Friday afternoon. Last year, the city broke the homicide record. Nearly one hundred more people were killed in 2021 in Indianapolis compared to three years earlier.

In 2021, 271 people were killed and in 2018, 176 people were killed, according to IMPD.

“One bullet doesn’t just kill that person — it knocks out the whole entire family," said Ashlynne Walker, whose sister Chanelle Walker was fatally shot 14 years ago. The case still remains unsolved.

Ashlynne Walker's sister, Chanelle Wells Walker.

Ashlynne Walker is the founder of Siblings Changing and Restoring Society, or S.C.A.R.S. Both that organization and Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense Indiana Chapter will host events throughout the weekend in the city as a way to honor, educate and push for change.

Wear Orange started in 2015 shortly after Hadiya Pendelton, a Chicago teenager, was shot and killed. Her friends honored her by wearing orange clothing, traditionally worn by hunters for protection.

Several events around central Indiana are planned at the end of this week. They include the following:

  • Friday
    • Indianapolis — Rally, 9:30 a.m. at Indy Cultural Trail, north of the Walnut Street/Orange Bridge and west of the canal.
    • Fishers — Nationwide Wear Orange event, 7 p.m. at Fishers City Hall, 1 Municipal Dr.
  • Saturday
    • Bloomington — Gun violence victim honoration, 8 a.m.
    • Indianapolis — 'Kicking the Grief' kickball tournament, 11 a.m. at Watkins Park, 2360 Doctor M.L.K. Jr. St. Registration online.

Several times a month, S.C.A.R.S. holds a Zoom support group meeting. To learn more, click here.