INDIANAPOLIS — Faith leaders in Indianapolis believe a unified community rally cry for "peace in the streets" can curb the record-breaking violence in the city. Pastors and law enforcement leaders got together for breakfast Tuesday morning at Christ Temple Apostolic Faith, followed by a news conference to launch a marketing campaign they say was successful in Indy more than 15 years ago.
They hope local churches will display and distribute signs that read "Peace in the Streets: STOP the Violence" until the message is heard all over the city and changes attitudes.
"This ‘Peace in the Streets’ is a rallying cry,” said Kendall Wyatt, Young Lions Action Network President. “It raises the level of consciousness that it's not so easy to shoot someone in the face if what you're trying to accomplish is peace in the streets."
Karen Hoskins pastors City of Judah, a small storefront church on 10th Street at Bosart Avenue on the near east side. The church doubles as the Enchanted Wedding Chapel and Events.
She was among the pastors who stood in unison at Tuesday’s announcement of the marketing campaign for peace in the streets after more than 240 homicides in Indianapolis so far this year.
"We're just excited about the things that are going to take place and how we're going to help each other in this critical hour that we're in fighting this violence in the street,” said Hoskins.
"Our community is facing civic cardiac arrest,” said Wyatt, as pastors stood behind him holding signs with the slogan. “And some of the problems with food deserts, the problem with education in our city, the problems with police brutality at times — all of those issues are cancers. But right now, we're having a heart attack."
Marion County prosecutor Ryan Mears, Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Chief Randal Taylor and Indiana State Police Superintendent Doug Carter attended in support of the initiative.
"I don't understand why we can't talk about that, why we can't talk about the number of young Black males that have been killed in this city?” asked Carter. “It's not OK. They have moms and dads and families and friends. We as community leaders have got to recognize that now's our time."
Clergy and community leaders from the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance of Greater Indianapolis (IMAGI), Peace in The Streets, City of Peace Coalition, Indianapolis Ten Point Coalition, Stop the Violence, and several other ministerial groups came together for the announcement. They want to see the signs and hear the message for peace in the streets all over the city and social media, hoping that the revival of a simple slogan will change people's attitudes and actions.
Pastor Hoskins already posted the sign in her church's front window.
"If we're talking about it in our homes, we're talking about in our churches, and we get it in the minds of the people — when they start having negative thoughts and their emotions take over — they’ll think about peace in the streets, stop the violence," said Hoskins.
IMAGI says the slogan was first introduced successfully in 2005 and is just the first of several initiatives to come. The group wants to make the signs available for individuals and businesses to post on their property.
You can get a sign through participating churches or order one online.