Activists call for end to violence in Gary

2013-06-15T20:15:00Z 2013-06-19T10:12:09Z Activists call for end to violence in GaryMarisa Kwiatkowski marisa.kwiatkowski@nwi.com, (219) 662-5333 nwitimes.com

GARY | Myrtle Curry said her grandson, Richard Taylor, is more powerful in death.

Taylor, 25, was found shot dead in the street Dec. 17 in the 900 block of Aetna Street in Gary. He had left his home about 9:15 p.m. to go the store and became the victim of a robbery attempt, police said.

"He was shot for no reason at all," Curry said Saturday during an anti-violence summit held by Communities United Against Violence.

Cassandra Cannon, the CEO and director of United Urban Network Inc., said Taylor's "senseless" death was a symbol of the need for organizations and community members to work together to curb violence. About 30 people attended Saturday's anti-violence summit, called A New Beginning — for Peace and Nature, at the Charter School of the Dunes in Gary.

The event included information booths for area service organizations, speeches from people affected by violence and musical and theatrical performances by Chicago-based For Children, By Children. Their message: Stop the violence.

Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson said it was violence that drove her to run for mayoral office a third time after two unsuccessful attempts. She said someone was killed near the side of her yard in December 2010. A short time later, someone else was killed and dropped in her elderly neighbor's garage. Fences and garages in the alley near her home were riddled with bullet holes.

"If those of us who know better remain silent, then the small minority of people who are committing crimes will take over," Freeman-Wilson said. "The overwhelming majority of our young people are law-abiding, God-fearing people. ... We could put 500 or 600 police officers on the street, and it still won't matter unless we come together as a community."

She urged residents to break the "code of silence" when someone commits a crime to force criminals to "straighten up or go somewhere else."

"I prefer they straighten up," she said.

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