When it comes to reports of shots fired and crime in the city, especially among youth and teenagers, one Kokomo man is saying enough is enough.
After 19-year-old Dayshon Sanders was gunned down late last month, making it the fourth murder of the year in Kokomo, Frederick Murrell sprang into action. On Oct. 26, he’s leading an anti-violence march starting at City Hall that will take participants through some of the city's higher-crime areas in the hopes of leading by example.
“Our youth are the ones that we’re trying to keep ahold to so nothing happens to them. I’m starting to know the bodies that are coming up deceased out here on our streets. It’s affecting my heart,” said Murrell. “I’m trying to figure out what it will take to let our youth know that this is not the way to go. We want the violence to stop, and it has to really start with them because that’s where it’s been lately.”
Just last month, on Sept. 19, Kokomo Police Department officers arrested two Kokomo males, ages 17 and 19, on counts of armed robbery. On Sept. 13, a 19-year-old Kokomo male was one of four people arrested in connection to a vehicle being stolen from a victim at gunpoint. In August, three teenagers were arrested for illegal possession of handguns following reports of shots fired. And the reports of shots fired in general, Murrell said, now seem commonplace.
By hosting a walk, Murrell hopes to get parents and grandparents involved who will let their children and grandchildren know, by virtue of marching, that violence isn’t the answer.
“Let’s get parents, grandparents marching past our youth on a Saturday morning when you don’t have to go to school. You’ll look and understand it’s pretty much your stupidity that has them marching for peace,” he said. “Maybe that will open their eyes and make them stop because now you have people from your household out in the street marching for safety.”
Murrell, who’s known by some as MC Big Fred and works as a party promoter, sees a lot of parents at the events he throws. Not all of them, he said, serve as good examples to youth, and he hopes to see that change too.
He’s asking the community to step up and, through unity and awareness, help raise Kokomo’s youth.
“It takes a village to raise a child, so it really takes a community to raise our youth right for the change that we want. We can’t be out here toting pistols ourselves and think they’re not going to want to do it too. We can’t be out here shooting even our own best friends and thinking that it’s OK to preach to them not to do it. If we’re doing it, they’re going to do it too. It takes us to instill what we want to see out of our children, out of our next generation, so that’s why we’re going to start in the streets because that’s where they start most.”
Murrell has handed out thousands of flyers for the march and has many more to go. He’s been passing them out namely at the corner of Jefferson Street and Apperson Way, and he said people of all ages have been very receptive.
Others in the community too, he said, are tired of the violence.
“I’ve had young folks say, ‘Here, give me a flyer because I’m tired of losing my friends.’ I’ve had older folks say, ‘Yes, give me a flyer. I’m tired of losing my nephews, uncles, cousins.’ I haven’t witnessed any violence; I’ve just witnessed the community actually saying, ‘I’m glad you’re doing it because we’re tired of it,’” he said.
The march will start at City Hall on Saturday, Oct. 26, at 11 a.m. Participants will walk to the northeast side of the city around Jackson, Jefferson, Taylor, Mulberry, and Purdum streets in the area of Carver Community Center and also the areas of Broadway, Elm, Richmond, and Havens streets.
The march will end on Havens Street at Studebaker Park where a community gospel fest will be held. Four local churches will provide entertainment, with Bishop Charles Glenn of Fountain of Life Word and Worship Center giving the opening prayer.
Glenn said he was happy to be a part of the event and hopes it helps make a difference.
"It's a good thing. Anything that can be done to combat the violence that we've been facing is a good thing," Glenn said.
While organizing the event and asking for sponsors, Murrell said countless businesses have been willing to help. Brian Morgan, owner of 17th Street Crab House, will be at the park, offering his food for free, along with free food from the former Drake’s Bar and Grill and Kokomo Fish & Chicken.
There will be a bounce house and other activities in the park. Murrell hopes to see some good come from the day of unity.
“I came to the realization that it has to stop. When the last young man got shot over on the north end of town, it really crushed me. It crushed my heart. It crushed everything in me,” Murrell said. “I know him. I talked to him personally, so knowing the type of child he really was deep down inside, it took hold of me in a different way. I just started going from there, and I didn’t stop until something was put together.”