Mayor Hogsett debuts #IChoosePeace Campaign

The citywide campaign aims to promote community action against gun violence and kicked off during National Gun Violence Awareness Month

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Mayor Hogsett debuts #IChoosePeace Campaign
CAPTION: Indy Peace fellows wear orange shirts. Orange signifies the color worn by hunters so that they are not a target to other hunters. (Photo/Jade)
Mayor Hogsett debuts #IChoosePeace Campaign
78 reserved seating labels are spread throughout the auditorium in honor of those who lost their lives to gun violence in the city this year. (Photo/Jade Jackson)

Placed inside the Clowes Auditorium Wednesday at the Indianapolis Central Library downtown were 78 reserved seats.  

They represent the lives lost to gun violence so far this year.  

“I choose peace is a wave both online and offline for residents to share their personal experiences and spread awareness. We all have a role to play in a safer Indianapolis,” said Mayor Joe Hogsett in the auditorium.  

RELATED: Hogsett announces next phase of anti-violence plan, calls for change in state law 

Mayor Hogsett joined community partners and the Indy Peace Fellowship to launch the citywide campaign #IChoosePeace. Its purpose is promoting peace, spreading awareness and empowering people to act against gun violence.  

The Indy Peace Fellowship is a partnership between the Indy Public Safety Foundation and the city’s Office of Public Health and Safety.  

The auditorium was filled with a sea of orange shirts representing the Indy Peace fellows.  

#IChoosePeace campaign

Mayor Hogsett debuts #IChoosePeace Campaign
There are about 55 people employed with Indy Peace Fellowship who are focused on reducing gun violence through a data driven community-based approach. (Photo/Jade Jackson)

15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton marched in President Obama’s second inaugural parade on January 21, 2013. A week later she was killed on a playground in Chicago.  

Pendleton’s friends and family commemorated her life by wearing orange. It is the color hunters wear in the woods to protect themselves from being accidentally targeted by other hunters. 

“If you take a quick look around this room, you’ll see many people wearing the color orange and for different reasons. Today, we are asking you to raise your hand and say, ‘I choose peace,’” said Della Brown, an outreach worker with the fellowship. 

Mayor Hogsett debuts #IChoosePeace Campaign
Della Brown (right) said she is choosing peace for her daughter, 8-year-old Ameeyah Brown (left). (Photo/Jade Jackson) 

Brown said she is wearing orange to honor Keith. He was her oldest brother who lost his life to gun violence when he was 15 years old.  

Tony Lopez, the deputy director of the Violence Reduction Office of Public Health & Safety, said through funding from the American Rescue Plan, they were able to build out their fellowship program. 

Indy Peace Fellowship

There are about 55 people employed, and they focus on reducing gun violence through a data driven, community-based approach. 

“We have to know that data on a day to day, week to week, month to month basis so we can be in those areas in the city talking to individuals. We are there to help make a difference,” said Lopez. 

The Indy Peace Fellowship includes life coaches, outreach workers and violence interrupters. 

Life coaches work with high-risk individuals who could potentially be a perpetrator or a victim of gun violence or have been both at one point and time 

Outreach workers build relationships with neighbors and community organizations as well as individuals that are identified as high risk. The goal is to bring those individuals into the fellowship to begin working with a life coach. 

Violence interrupters work within the areas being hit by gun violence heavily. They are on the scenes of local homicides and non-fatal shootings to speak to families and offer support. They are there to reduce retaliation to decrease gun violence. 

“During the summertime, idle time is everybody’s playground to do whatever they want,” said Lopez. 

Mayor Hogsett announced the campaign as part of his public safety address last month.  

You can pledge online with the option of sharing pictures HERE.  

The #IChoosePeace campaign begins June 1 and ends in October which is Domestic Violence Awareness month. 

Contact staff writer Jade Jackson at 317-607-5792 or by email JadeJ@IndyRecorder.com. Follow her on Twitter @IAMJADEJACKSON