Coalition decries gun violence in Indianapolis, demands curfew
A faith-based coalition is calling on Simon Property Group to impose a chaperone rule at the Circle Centre Mall in downtown Indianapolis, along with a citywide curfew for teenagers.
Meantime, Indianapolis Metro Police are announcing new procedures aimed at preventing the kind of violence seen last weekend in a busy downtown area.
The move comes after gun violence broke out last weekend as teenagers left the mall. Shots were fired near Maryland and Capitol and a teenager was arrested. No one was injured, but the incident has once again raised concerns about public safety - along with perceptions about how safe downtown streets are.
IMPD says Marion County Juvenile Probation Officers will begin conducting random probation sweeps starting this weekend. All unsupervised youth leaving the mall who are not immediately picked up will be given the option of either boarding an IndyGo bus to return home immediately or they will be directed to a monitored, designated location to await their ride home.
Off-duty officers hired by IndyGo will patrol bus stops along with on-duty officers. IMPD will also redeploy resources from the Mounted Patrol Unit, Park Rangers, Community Affairs, Gang Unit and Event Response Group (ERG) to downtown locations on an as-needed basis.
The Ten Point Coalition announced Friday morning that they're calling for Simon to impose a curfew and chaperone policy at the downtown shopping mall. On Friday and Saturday nights from 5:00 pm until the mall closes at 9:00 pm, the plan would require anyone under 17 years old to have a chaperone of 21 or older. The group also wants a citywide curfew for under-17s on weekends, although that may require state and City-County Council approval.
Members of the coalition say parents need to step up and take responsibility for their children, and that it's not the job of malls to babysit. So far, Simon says it has no plans to impose the policy and that it has adequate security.
The coalition also wants more crime prevention dollars channeled to public safety to deal with gun violence. The group would like to see a restoration of the Indianapolis Violence Reduction Program that was implemented in the 1990s.
The group called on all faith-based leaders to attend a rally against violence at 8:15 pm in downtown Indianapolis this Saturday (Feb. 2).
Also, on Friday (Feb. 1), Rev. Malachi Walker, who operates a mentoring program, will have a van load of young men at Illinois and Maryland Streets at 7:00 pm to help reach out to young people.
John Campbell, mall manager of Circle Centre Mall, issued the following statement Friday.
"Circle Centre stands steadfast with all of our downtown neighbors and stakeholders on the paramount objective of keeping downtown pleasant. While we employ a professionally, well trained security staff and hire off-duty police officers who work hand-in-hand with our outstanding local law enforcement officials, we agree with Mayor Ballard who stated that parental/guardian responsibility is the key to curbing youth incidents.
"Circle Centre applauds the City for adopting a strong stance of 'Zero Tolerance' for any inappropriate behavior which has been a standard procedure when inside the property. Finally, we are proud both of Circle Centre's integral role as a catalyst for downtown Indianapolis's dynamic redevelopment and its over 17-year record of success as a thriving urban mall."
In March 2012, a 16-year-old boy shot five other teens along the downtown canal. Police arrested Dai-Twon Williams, who was charged as an adult in that crime, which detectives say was gang-related. Williams had been threatening and harassing one of the victims on Facebook before the shooting.
During the 2010 Indiana Black Expo Summer Celebration, a teenager shot nine people in a crowded downtown street. Shamus Patton, who was 17 at the time of the shooting incident, pleaded guilty to six counts of battery, criminal recklessness, criminal gang activity and carrying a handgun without a license.