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"Play for Peace" basketball tournament kicks off the #IChoosePeace campaign

Posted at 11:13 PM, Jun 08, 2023
and last updated 2023-06-08 23:13:04-04

INDIANAPOLIS — “We are trying to fill this gym up with young men that look like me and teach them the right way,” Anthoney Hampton said.

As part of the #IChoosePeace Campaign, dozens came out to the Bethel Park gym for some basketball.

"Take three steps forward if you have had a person close to you shot in the last 12 to 24 months," Della Brown with OPHS Peacemaker said.

This was an uncomfortable reality for attendees.

"Raise your hand if you are ever in fear for your life, or you're ever paranoid when you're out in the streets. Honestly," Brown said. "80% of all the gun violence and crime that happens in the city of Indianapolis, whether it's a victim or perpetrator, looks like you guys.”

Indianapolis is just one week into the city's summer initiative, Summer in the City, to help reduce violence.

"The campaign is I choose peace, and we want to radiate that throughout the city," Hampton said.

The campaign's "Play for Peace” basketball tournament targeted young black men ages 18 through 35.

"A lot of them are home from college, so it gives them something to do on Thursdays and Fridays. It's a good way to access the park here. [There has been] a lot of violence lately in the parks. It gives this demographic a safe space," Hampton said.

Donovan Scott is home for the summer. He says being a part of this initiative helps him meet new people and reach his goals.

“I feel like people use sports to get away from a lot of things they don’t need to be around,” Scott said. “It’s a way to stay on track and stay committed to what you want to do and focus on positive things.”

Jamar Exford says he jumped at the opportunity to come back to his old neighborhood and participate.

“It’s more than basketball. A lot of us come from fatherless and broken homes,” Exford said.

Exford hopes that over the course of the summer, more people will join.

"I hope they get some mental conditioning, some change of patterns. Things that are going to get them to not conform to their environment,” Exford said.

Summer in the City lasts seven weeks, from June 5 to July 21. Once participants complete the seven weeks, they will get an incentive.