They want a better Indianola

By BRYAN DAVIS EDITOR,

Dozens of citizens showed up to last week’s community forum on violence at 6:20 that evening thinking they were getting there early enough to get a good seat.

Those folks were sadly disappointed as the crowd was already lined up outside the entry to the Gin at the B.B. King Museum.

The good news is that it was standing room only.

The bad news is that those who were “late” to the event, had a hard time hearing the many fruitful conversations that were going on inside regarding our community.

Indianola Police Chief Edrick Hall, who organized the event after a rash of gun violence and deaths hit Indianola at the end of 2019, said he plans to have another event at some point in 2020, and it will be held at a larger venue to accommodate all who want to participate.

Hall can hardly be blamed for the overflow.

Indianola isn’t exactly known for filling halls, but this time was different.

The citizens of this town are fed up with the violence, and they are hungry for solutions.

Last week’s audience was diverse and more open minded than we’re used to seeing in Indianola.

The comments were not racially charged.

In fact, everyone in the building seemed to recognize that we are not dealing with a white problem or a black problem in this town. These are Indianola problems.

When a 16-year-old child has a gun, and uses that gun to kill another teenager, it does not matter what color his skin is. It doesn’t matter which street he lives on or what side of the tracks he is from.

We should all grieve and pray together for the families of the victims and the assailants.

Most of the people at last week’s forum would agree with that.

Most of the people who were in that room want a better Indianola.

There were a lot of potential solutions bandied about during the discussion, including a possible short-term curfew for all citizens and the suggestion that city-installed cameras are needed in high-crime areas.

IPD seemed open to this idea, but given the fact that the department has performed exceptionally well in making arrests in the aftermaths of most of the deadly shootings in the past couple of years – without the use of cameras on light poles – these devices may not be the best investment for the taxpayers.

There was talk of reviving the discussion around a Boys & Girls Club in Indianola.

Not all of the ideas brought forth last week are going to stick, and there are probably many more good ones out there that haven’t even been considered yet.

The important thing is that we have started a conversation, as a unified community.

People who may have felt alone in the struggle against violence a month ago should know that there is a support system in this community that runs from one end of town to the other.

People are praying for mothers, fathers and children they don’t even know.

For too long, we’ve let the divisions of the past enable divisions in the present.

This town proved last week it is willing to come together under one roof and talk like adults about real problems, without arguing or judgement.

These folks want a better Indianola, and if they keep showing up and keep participating in productive conversations, they will accomplish just that.

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