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Community activists say east side problems are being ignored

Posted at 1:21 AM, Aug 27, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-27 01:28:37-04

INDIANAPOLIS — As family and friends try to heal after the double-murder of a teenage brother and sister, area activists are asking the community to come together and address the well-known problems they say are being ignored.

A 15-year-old boy, who has not been charged, was arrested Monday and is currently sitting in jail in connection to the deaths of Nicholas and Ashlynn Nelson. If he is charged with murder, a judge will decide whether or not he will be tried as an adult.

With that and other cases as a backdrop, community activists like Derris Ross are reminding the city's young men that violence is not the answer. It's a lifestyle Ross knows well.

"It's so many different gaps and resources continuing to shutdown every single year, putting us in a position where got to put food on our table, we gotta do what we gotta do to survive and a lot of people turn to violence," Ross said. "I was one of them that who kind of straddled the line at first but turned to the streets.

"I lost 37 friends to gun violence. It took two of my friends killing each other over $50 to wake me up."

RELATED | Indianapolis community devastated after teen siblings killed

Ross, a former gang member turned community activist, is now running for City-County Council. He said putting the city's young men on the right path is a job no one person or organization can tackle alone.

"You gotta put something in front of them that they ain't used to seeing," he said. "We need people to step up. Peers to step up. People who have influence to step up to put something positive in front of these kids."

Those are words Antonio Patton lives by. He is part of the team launching The Reset Center, a new community headquarters on the east side. He said mentoring teens growing up in today's world takes building a connection that was lost years ago.

"We need the village mentality back like never before. To where when your child was out of line, I knew his dad, I knew his mom I knew whoever that guardian was and that child could get their behinds whooped right there and they knew they would get a double up whooping later that night," Patton said.

RELATED | East side community begs for peace after siblings' murder

Patton said mentoring teen requires a lot of love, patience and consideration. It's a trait they have to receive to know how to give.

"We have to empower kids to know that before you make a reaction or a decision, have you stopped and thought about what you're about to do? What's the severity and the consequences for my action?" Patton said.

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