Community Holds Stop The Violence Rally (VIDEO & PHOTOS)

By Emma Koch
By Rachel Martin

March 20, 2013 Updated Oct 17, 2013 at 7:59 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (www.incnow.tv) -- The Urban League and other organizations held a "Stop The Violence" rally Wednesday afternoon at the scene of Wednesday morning's shooting death.

The Allen County Coroner has ruled 49-year-old Jacqueline Hardy’s death Allen County’s 11th homicide of 2013, and community leaders say that’s enough.

Fort Wayne leaders, including the Fort Wayne Urban League, the NAACP, Youth for Christ, and multiple church groups rallied at Reed St. and Petit Avenue Wednesday afternoon where Hardy was shot and killed Wednesday morning. Their message: stop the violence.

“There’s only one word that comes to my mind when it relates to the violence in our city, and that’s evil,” said Pastor Carlton Lynch of New Beginnings Church. “I think the community leaders need to be bold enough to come to the same place and speak life even though there’s been death.”

Although no one offered any direct solutions, leaders say they’re searching for some and it’s going to require everyone’s input and ideas. Fort Wayne Urban League President and CEO Jonathan Ray says stopping the violence has to be a community initiative, and it’s the community who has to decide what’s necessary, collectively.

“We can’t wait another month, we can’t wait another week, we can’t wait another day. We can’t wait any longer to take action,” said Jonathan Ray, President and CEO of the Fort Wayne Urban League. “It’s time for grandmothers, grandfathers, uncles, aunts, concerned citizens, parents, youth—it’s time for people to come together so we can figure out a collective change. It’s going to take all of us together, working together, connected with cinergy to create change for the community that we love.”

Leaders expressed the need for prayer, mentoring, education and teaming up with law enforcement as possible solutions.

“We talk a lot about the police, well the police can't do it by themselves. There has to be another solution outside of the police. These are our young people. This is our community. We must turn in people that are committing these violent acts and assist the police,” said Andre Patterson.

However, Patterson says the cry for help is nothing new and that this time the community needs to do something about it.

“Every year I’ve been in the city of Fort Wayne and something’s happened, we’ve done this. Our children deserve a safe community. Our seniors deserve a safe community. I deserve a safe community. So the solution is that the Mayor, the Police Chief, the leaders in this community, the citizens, and the young people all need to get together and follow through,” he said.

A community stop the violence meeting will be held on Friday, March 22 at the Urban League, 2135 S. Hanna St., at 6 p.m. Ray says everyone is welcome with all their ideas.

“We don’t have any preconceived notions. The only thing that we do know is what is happening now has to stop,” said Ray. “We’re going to find out what the answers are and try to come up with some solutions that can be sustained by all the beautiful and loving people in this community.”

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