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The Journal Gazette

  • Jamie Duffy | The Journal Gazette Families First volunteers met Wednesday to work on the July 22 rally at the St. Joseph Catholic Church on Brooklyn Avenue that will address gun violence, immigration practices and preschool vouchers. From left: Timika Bonner, Alanna Saylor, Stacey Davis, Katelyn Gustin and Pastor Angelo Mante.

Thursday, July 12, 2018 1:00 am

Group seeks to end gun violence

Families First to hold rally July 22

JAMIE DUFFY | The Journal Gazette

Families First, a new faith-based group joining the battle to curb gun violence in Fort Wayne, will hold a rally July 22 at St. Joseph Catholic Church on Brooklyn Avenue.

The Allen County-based group is part of Faith in Indiana, which has its roots in Faith in Action, a national group, according to members of Families First meeting Wednesday evening at Simpson United Methodist Church on South Harrison Street.

Faith in Action is also associated with the Live Free campaign.

Audrey Davis, former social justice ministries coordinator at the Fort Wayne-South Bend Catholic Diocese, is the Northeast/North-Central lead organizer at Faith in Indiana.

The new initiative has targeted three ways to make positive changes for distressed families.

The Wednesday night group focused on reducing the number of homicides. There have been 24 in Allen County this year.

Group violence intervention measures will be based on successful models that other cities used to reduce the number of homicides, said Stacey Davis, whose son, Codi McCann, was shot to death in December 2016 in Fort Wayne.

Stacey Davis, working at the group violence intervention table, said she will push for street outreach workers who are OGs, or “original gangsters,” who have lived the lifestyle and are not afraid to approach young men with guns who are willing to shoot or would likely be shot at.

Davis contrasted the costs associated with one homicide, estimated at $1.8 million in Chicago and only slightly less in Fort Wayne, with the much lower estimated cost of providing street outreach workers who would be paid, professionally trained and full-time. It was unclear Wednesday night exactly how much the workers would be paid.

Other Families First goals include ending the practice at the Allen County Jail of holding detainees for immigration authorities and providing more preschool vouchers for underprivileged children.

For more information on Families First, email audrey@faithindiana.org.

jduffy@jg.net