Man Hopes to Bring Community Together Following Heated Council Meeting

Monday night, he took a stand at the Civic Center. Two days later, he's taking a stand for the community. Following the tense Evansville City Council meeting, one Evansville man hopes to unite the police, church leaders and the community through an unused, dusty baseball diamond.

Monday night, he took a stand at the Civic Center. Two days later, he's taking a stand for the community. Following the tense Evansville City Council meeting, one Evansville man hopes to unite the police, church leaders and the community through an unused, dusty baseball diamond.

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On a vacant back field at the end of the third base line, Anthony Hughes is at home.

"I've been in this community for 30 years," Hughes said. "I grew up here. I love these projects. I grew up in [the Sweetser] projects. I grew up playing on the streets of the south side of Evansville. I love my people."

 Love would not be the word he would use to describe Monday night.

"Martin Luther King had a dream and it wasn't for our community to be at war with the Evansville Police Department," Hughes said. "I couldn't stand to listen to the most of the things said against the police department. I live in a neighborhood in which that if we didn't have the police officers, it'd be Baghdad."

Hughes doesn't need a podium or a pulpit. All he needs is home plate.

Staring at the basketball hoops without nets and chain-link fences, as much as Hughes enjoys replaying the past, he's focused on today and the next day.

 To move forward from a tense two weeks centered around race and the relationship with police on the south side, Hughes looks here at a dusty, old baseball diamond.

"I propose the Police Alliance League," Hughes said. "PAL, it's nice and simple. They're not our enemy. They're your pals. We need these kids to see that these police officers are not their enemies."

"What better place to align the EPD and felons and the church and to keep these children that grew up in this society from being future felons?"

Felons, like him. Since being released from prison in 2003, Hughes has spent the last decade trying to build up his community.

"Do you hear that noise?' Hughes said as he referenced a construction crew across the field. "That's what I want to do. I want to knock down walls in this community. I want to come into this community and bring unity to this community."

"The police department did not allow our community to go down," Hughes said. "We did."

Hughes is calling upon city leaders to help establish this community sports league that will utilize the baseball field near the projects. He hopes off-duty cops, church leaders and people in the community can help form the league which, in turn, will bring the community together. He hopes the league will feature soccer and baseball teams, two sports that aren't often glamorized in the black community, Hughes said.

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