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Community holds prayer vigil for 15-year-old KIPP Indy student

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Sunday, Nov. 5 members of KIPP staff, Edna Martin and the community at large gathered on Hovey Street – located around the corner of KIPP Indy Legacy High School – to pray for the recent events involving teens and gun violence.  

Denell Howard is the pastor of Hovey Street Church of Christ. He said that there needs to be more community engagement to tackle gun violence.  

RELATED: 15-year-old KIPP Indy student shot and killed in school parking lot 

“When things like this happen in your community, there should always be a community response with those who are concerned with the things that are happening in their neighborhood,” said Howard.  

A few Black lawmakers were in attendance as well as Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett, who Howard claimed was not invited. 

Howard claims he was not formally invited but attended.

“It’s not about the politics. This is about the people who care. The community is here, which is most important. A lot of the time, organizations have a response, but people need to know that the people in this community care,” said Howard.  

Organizations and individuals who worked with students inside of KIPP spoke to youth about taking gun violence seriously. Other pastors encouraged parents and families to speak with their children.  

Family members wants justice

Jacqueline Hatton, older cousin of Devin Gilbert, called on Hogsett to ensure accountability is held for Gilbert’s murder.  

“He wasn’t no bad kid. Just because he got into it with another student earlier that day, and his mom’s had him in boxing since he was little, he defended himself. Now, because you can’t fight, you get somebody to kill him?” said Hatton.  

“He had money, but not by selling drugs. He mows the grass for his grandmother, and she’s asking me when he’s going to mow the grass, and he can’t because he’s gone.” 

In a statement to the Indianapolis Recorder, Hatton said she is pushing for the death penalty or life without the possibility of parole for the 15-year-old who shot and killed Gilbert.  

“He stood over Devin and continued to shoot him, over and over. Indianapolis needs to go harder than 20-year sentences. These kids are not afraid of 20-year sentences.”  

After the prayer, people gathered at the Edna Martin Christian Center on 25th Street, around the corner from KIPP.  

RELATED: To understand the real toll of gun violence, look to survivors and their families

100 WOMEN UNITED hosted community members, leaders and city and law enforcement to create a safe space for finding solutions and support regarding the recent violence. 

Prayer and action

“I am tired. I am heartbroken. Collectively, we are going to stand together and figure out what we can do to collaborate. Kids are dying. They’re not making it to prom. They don’t even get to graduate,” said founder of Purpose 4 My Pain DeAndra Yates-Dycus.  

Yates-Dycus’ son was shot in the head while attending a birthday party on the northwest side of Indianapolis. This brought her to start the nonprofit, where she provides support for other families who have been affected by gun violence. 

Many of the women at the event had lost loved ones to gun violence like Ashanti Beene.

She was another cousin of Gilbert, and experiencing heartbreak.

“Me and Devin, we laughed and joked on Thursday, and one Friday he’s no longer here. His life mattered. He was a happy, funny 15-year-old boy who worked hard,” said Beene.

“It’s hurtful to hear that a teenage girl went to a Halloween party, and she was killed. It’s hurtful to know that Devin has a number on him now. Number 20, and was killed at school. These are all things that teenagers should be able to do,” Beene said.

The 15-year-old boy who was arrested for shooting Gilbert to appear in court early this week.

Contact staff writer Jade Jackson at (317) 762-7853 or by email JadeJ@IndyRecorder.com. Follow her on Twitter @IAMJADEJACKSON. 

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