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Abdul-Hakim Shabazz defends record as he launches campaign for mayor

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New Republican mayoral candidate Abdul-Hakim Shabazz will make public safety one of the top priorities of his campaign as he defends controversial comments he’s made about violence in Indianapolis.

Shabazz, a journalist and attorney, announced his run for mayor Feb. 2.

Shabazz said nonviolent, first-time offenders should complete an education program as part of their probation, after which their record would be expunged. He would like longer sentences for those he called “habitual offenders,” on the other hand, because they aren’t “capable of being around society.”

“People we are afraid of need to go away for a long time,” Shabazz told the Recorder in an interview Feb. 3.

Shabazz, an Illinois native, said there should be enhanced sentences for crimes in low-income neighborhoods.

“Indianapolis should be the worst place to commit a crime and best place to get a second chance,” Shabazz said.

Shabazz, an occasional columnist for the Recorder and other publications, wrote in 2015 that Indianapolis’ high homicide rate is like a “self-cleaning oven.”

“And if bad guys aren’t going to take the hint, or the help, to change their lifestyles then perhaps we let the ‘self-cleaning oven’ run its course,” he wrote. “In other words, we do what we can to help those who want to be helped but let the rest of them take each other out of the gene pool, which to be frank, is probably the only good most of these guys will ever do society.”

Asked about the column, Shabazz stood by it.

“One less person we have to worry about,” he said, adding he’s worried about when “innocent people” are harmed as a result of their violence.

Shabazz will also emphasize education in his campaign, advocating for an increase in school choice. He would also like to see more opportunities for adults to finish their education.

“The city needs new leadership and new direction,” he said.

Shabazz joins Republican candidates James Jackson and John Couch vying for the party’s nomination in the May primary.

Shabazz has not held political office but was a spokesman from 1995-2003 for the attorney general in Illinois.

Contact staff writer Timoria Cunningham at 317-762-7854. Follow her on Twitter @_timoriac.

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