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Indy pastor talks about the trauma of gun violence

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — With nearly 40 homicides in Indianapolis so far this year, some faith leaders are trying to offer solutions to gun violence and the trauma that comes with it.

One such faith leader is Kenneth Sullivan, pastor of New Direction Church and president of the Indianapolis Urban Pastors Coalition, a nonprofit group of about 30 pastors formed last June to address challenges in the city.

“In our culture, we celebrate death,” Sullivan said. “In other cultures, they celebrate life.”

At least 39 people have been killed by gun violence in the city so far this year, according to the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, and Sullivan says he is “unsettled” by how many of those crimes involved children.

“It’s not normal for teenagers to kill each other,” Sullivan said. “It’s not normal for us to be conditioned to accept violence in our community.”

Sullivan says that when someone dies from gun violence, their families often live with unresolved trauma. It’s a cycle he wants to break.

“It is so important that, after the loved one is laid to rest, [that the family] can get some solace and comfort, and that they are walked through that process of grief,” Sullivan said. “We have the funeral and go about our business, but that family is still hurting.”

Funding for anti-violence programs and working with other nonprofits is a place to start, according to Sullivan.

“We can’t save everybody,” Sullivan said. “We can’t clean up all the mess, but I think if all of us take the sphere of influence where we are assigned and be determined to make a difference where we are. Then, all of us can make a difference.”

Sullivan says there are programs available through his church and others that help put people on a path that leads away from violence and crime.

“We have programs within our church that are designed to prevent violence,” Sullivan said. “I believe if young people and communities that are underserved have off-ramps and opportunities other than some of the things they are doing in the street, they’ll take those opportunities.”

To learn what Indianapolis police are doing to address violent crime, IMPD’s southwest district will host a town hall meeting on Monday, March 28, at 6 p.m.