After a violent start of the year in Muncie, one local advocate is saying the gun violence needs to stop.
Marwin Strong, the creator of "Enough is Enough," has already started to mobilize the community around the issue. He aims to get kids off the street and into sustainable jobs with the program — or movement, as he calls it.
But overall, he just wants to make the Muncie community feel safe again. The city saw three fatal shootings in a nine-day period in February.
"Some of those murders in the last five to 10 years have been my friends," Strong said. "Enough is enough. People need to understand that."
Strong plans to get out in the community and walk the streets in high-crime areas, and ideally turn those doing illegal things in the right direction. The biggest issue, he said, is offering an alternative for people who they tell to put the drugs or guns down.
"We have to help them find jobs to stay off the streets and to make positive, honest money for them and their families," Strong said.
City officials are behind Strong as well. Mayor Dennis Tyler announced the formation of a council to end gun violence Wednesday. They hope to get illegal guns off the streets to make Muncie safer. The council was created in response to the increased drug activity and gun-related fatalities, Tyler said.
"A majority of the violence targets those in the drug trade who are dealing and using drugs," Tyler said. "However, innocent bystanders, such as children or innocent members of the community, run the risk of being injured or mortally wounded."
The initiative will focus on finding summer jobs for youth ages 16-24, crisis intervention programs and positive community and police relations.
"Enough is Enough" is modeled off Indianapolis' Ten Point Coalition. Through the work Ten Point has done, they've managed to keep three Indianapolis neighborhoods nearly homicide free for one to two years, said The Rev. Charles Harrison, president of the coalition.
That's a big achievement in a city that once again had a record-breaking number of homicides in 2016, with 149 criminal homicides.
"I think Muncie has similar problems that Indy is facing, but on a smaller scale," Harrison said.
But in order for the movement to be successful, Harrison and Strong both said the community needs to be fully involved.
That's why he wants Ball State students to get involved as well. Gun violence impacts everyone in the city in some way, he said, including students.
"Just because it didn't happen to me and it didn’t happen to my family, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t impact everybody," Strong said. "It impacts the whole city. A young man who got killed, a mother can say 'Oh, that could have been my child.'
"One day it could be their child, it could be anybody."