Current trial sheds light on increasing violence

INDIANAPOLIS - There have been a total of 72 murders in Indianapolis so far in 2014. Those numbers put the city on a pace to rival the 162 murders recorded in 1998. Police said many of the victims and suspects in those murders were black males under the age of 25.

A murder trial involving a victim and suspects of that demographic was just getting underway Monday. The 2013 murder case  gained little notoriety when it happened at 24th Street and Guilford Avenue. The victim was 19 and was left lying in the street.

Damien Williams survived for a while, but eventually died from the gunshot wounds. Jamar Minor, 20, and 21-year-old Jordan Gray were charged in Williams' murder.

"They killed him for no reason. I can't even explain the feeling. We still hurt, we are still going through our pain today. It's like nothing you can explain," the victim’s sister Kearrah Williams said.

Some believe that violent video games are the genesis for some of the gunplay.

"They are using these violent videos. They are being desensitized to this kind of violence. You have the hardcore gangster rap talking about violence these young men are starting to emulate it. The problem is when young men have beef with one another, they settle it now through guns," community activist Rev. Charles Harrison said.

The seemingly free flow of guns and an inability of ex-offenders to find legitimate work compound the problem.

"If they can't work they are out here hustling, selling drugs involved in all sorts of criminal activity that leads to gun violence.  If you try to rob a drug dealer, if you are gonna rob him, you are gonna have to kill him because if you don't, he is gonna kill you or have someone else kill you," Harrison said.

The murder trial for Minor and Gray was expected to last three days, but the pain for the Williams family will last forever.

Harrison is on sabbatical from his ministry at Barnes United Methodist Church and the Indianapolis Ten Point Coalition, but he said he is watching the community closely. He said more programs and efforts must be devoted to finding jobs for ex-offenders.

Follow Derrik Thomas on Twitter: @derrikthomas

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