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Upcoming events meant to draw attention to problem of gun violence in Fort Wayne

Wednesday, April 10, 2013 - 7:15 am

Two upcoming events will continue to serve as calls to the community to address the amount of gun violence that permeates the daily lives of some Fort Wayne residents.

On Friday, the Fort Wayne Urban League will conduct the second of a series of community meetings that are meant to serve as a systemic review of the community for the purpose of creating a plan that will be forwarded to elected officials, religious leaders and others in the community for subsequent action.

Friday's meeting will be held at 6 p.m. at the Prime Time Center, 3701 S. Calhoun St. Around 300 people attended the first community meeting in the series on March 22.

On April 27, the Fort Wayne chapter of the NAACP will hold a rally from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., with a theme of "Stop the Funerals, Stop the Violence."

According to Fort Wayne chapter president Rev. Saharra Bledsoe, the rally will begin at the corner of South Anthony Boulevard and Pontiac Street, where attendees will march to the corner of South Anthony and McKinnie Street on the city's southeast side.

"The message is to pick up a book, not a gun," Bledsoe said. There have been 15 homicides in Allen County to this point of the year, a statistic Bledsoe believes should prompt soul-searching in the community, the kind of soul-searching where public policy decisions and economic development initiatives that have been touted in years past should be evaluated now for their effectiveness -- or lack thereof.

"I think that the powers that be have to acknowledge what has been done. There are those who need to come back to the table and revisit past decisions and acknowledge that what we've been doing simply isn't working," Bledsoe said. "We have got to go back to the drawing board and revisit the aspects of the system that have led us to this point."

"These kids can't find jobs. They don't do well in school, and some of it is in the home, but some of it is the educational system. They go to work or school and are still called racial slurs, have to hear racial epithets. It shouldn't be this way," Bledsoe said.

"We have the money to build a baseball stadium downtown but we don't have money to address any other needs? Are we even trying?" Bledsoe continued. "We have got to do better than this. We can do better than this. Enough is enough. We want our children back, and not in a box."

For more information about the march and rally, see the website at www.fortwaynenaacp.org.