Peace Fellows visit 10 Point Coalition in Indianapolis

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Coordinator, Chicago Peace Fellows

On Tuesday, July 23rd, Chicago Peace Fellow Robert Beikman and his organization, Alternatives to Incarceration Collaborative, took a group of youths involved in his restorative justice program to Indianapolis to learn about the 10 Point Coalition and the work they do to tackle the issue of violence in their city.

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The day started with a conversation with the Rev. Charles Harrison and Indianapolis Police Chief Bryan Roach, who talked about how the program started. The 10 Point Coalition started in Boston in 1992 as a response to violence in that city as a partnership between the police, clergy and community youth organizations to conduct outreach and connect with community members who are most at risk of being a victim or perpetrator of violence. The partnership encourages community leaders to work with police to prevent acts of violence from occurring by providing services such as mentorship, housing, and jobs.

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Robert Biekman and his Alternatives to Incarceration team came to learn about the lessons of their actions. The group toured the neighborhood to get a feel of what it looks like in Indianapolis and some of the challenges they face around poverty, gangs and substance abuse. On the tour, an Indianapolis police officer got out of his car to join the tour and talked about his experience working with the program. Since the program began, there has been a decrease in violence in some of their most difficult communities.

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They attribute the drop in violence to better relationships between the police and community. The tour really highlighted the severe challenges faced by the community and some of the similarities with Chicago neighborhoods such as Roseland.

The young people that Robert brought from Chicago are a part of a program that provides an alternative to incarceration and teaches them how to be community leaders. All of the youth have been involved with the criminal justice system and the program partners with the courts to keep them out of jail. They attend training and do community service as an alternative to being incarcerated for low-level crimes, and the program helps them chart a new path.

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10 Point participants voiced their concerns with the police and community leaders in Indianapolis about the hopelessness they face in Chicago and how violence is so widespread. Many feel that because of issues of hostility, it is difficult to chart a new path. Robert and the Rev. Harrison worked hard to assuage these fears and reinforce the idea that changing their lifestyles is worth the peace and freedom it brings. Overall, everyone involved found it a valuable experience.

To learn more, check out the local news coverage from Indianapolis which features a video review of the meeting.

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