According to the community panel, young black males are often perceived to be a common source of violence in Evansville. They're hosting an open forum in hopes it will help erase that perception and reverse a culture of violence. A major theme was the role churches should play in the community. Pastor Marvin Barner of Mount Olive Galilee Baptist Church challenges inner city pastors to take the gospel to the children instead of asking them to come to church.
"We need pastors in the predominant African American community to do more than just show up, look pretty, and then go back home and collect a check," said Pastor Barner.
Reverend Stephen Brown works intimately with violent criminals as the chaplain in several area correctional facilities. His focus was on a parent's role in a troubled child's life.
"You have to ask the question where is the parent? Single mothers are doing the best they can, but dad's have gone AWOL, they're missing in action, and they're making excuses because I talk to them in every prison in the state of Indiana," said Reverend Brown.
One father Reverend Brown was not talking about was Timothy Simmons. He was sitting front row, gathering different ideas on how to take the thesis of this meeting home to his four children.
"Everybody is looking up to the rapper and we need to let the younger generation know and even some of the older generation that it's OK you can still be cool and be successful. By having an education, by working a jo,b by taking care of your kids. That's cool, that's really cool," said Simmons.
Many on the panel agreed that it's nice to see a community call for action when there is a string of shootings, but truly stopping the violence starts before the act rather than after. While some were disappointed in today's turnout, they hope more community members will get on-board to continue an open dialogue against violence.
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