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Peacemakers connect with Indianapolis community groups as gun violence continues

Posted at 8:13 PM, Mar 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-16 20:13:34-04

INDIANAPOLIS — 35 people trained to work with community groups are now hoping to reduce gun violence throughout Indianapolis.

The group is called the peacemakers and they'll be based in neighborhoods with non-for-profit groups and schools.

"We cannot afford not do to this. If we didn't do this, if we just sat around, we would definitely see not only what I think would be crime and homicides going up, but we would just see people not having humanity," Tony Lopez, deputy director of violence reduction, said.

Lopez oversees the Indianapolis Gun Violence reduction strategy.

"We focus on those individuals in the city we deem or find to be high risk for gun violence as a perpretator or as a victim," Lopez said. "I am not going to be able to say 'put your gun down,' but I'm going to be able to build a relationship with you to help you understand your decisions and the consequences that come from it."

The program also includes the Indy Peace Fellowship. For 12-18 months, participants will get a variety of services, including life coaching and connection to resources.

At Brookside Community Church, the "Elder Circle" meets each month.

"These are persons that are either going to become victims or they're going to commit the crime or they're going to be the victim of a crime," Pastor Charles Neal said. "It's not viewed as being warm and fuzzy. We have to be intentional about getting into relationships with individuals because these are humans beings that we're dealing with. They're not a number; they're not an object."

Lopez tells WRTV he's confident they will have success this year.

Next week, there should be new details about how the peacemakers will record what they call "interruptions."

Currently, the reports are not public and in the past have lacked specific details showing the clear results of the work being done in the neighborhoods.

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