Public meeting in Lexington addresses recent violence

kward1@herald-leader.comJuly 7, 2014 

Spurred by the recent spate of gun violence in Lexington, about 15 people gathered at the Lexington Public Library on Monday night to brainstorm ways to stop it.

A dozen people have been shot since June 21, and four have died. The most recent death came Sunday, when Amanda Franco, 23, was shot on Race Street.

Robert Walker, minister at Maple Street Christian Church in Nicholasville, organized the meeting, which he called Enough Is Enough.

"Everyone is going to have a different opinion," Walker told those assembled, "but what we have to do is come together under one theme: We want our communities back."

He suggested that the group develop a mission statement and create a petition to submit to Lexington's mayoral candidates.

Walker said he thought one of the primary problems contributing to the violence was that "our youth and our kids have nothing to do."

Several attendees agreed that more police would not solve the problem of violence.

"We've looked to them too much," said Rick Adams, minister at Kingdom Word Fellowship in Nicholasville. "When they're supposed to get involved, it's already too late. ... It's like asking a street sweeper to stop a mess from happening."

Will Bunge, a representative of the Urban Ninja Project who teaches martial arts, urged an approach of starting with young children to teach them "a warrior mentality."

"Every youngblood wants to fight," he said after the meeting. "Remove it from the corner and put it in a safe zone."

Other suggestions ranged from visiting the jail to ask perpetrators to stop the cycle of violence to working on efforts to create more jobs.

The group agreed to meet at 6 p.m. next Monday at the library, and they began making plans for a march or rally on Aug. 30.

Several attendees also pledged to attend a march organized by Anita Franklin, the mother of Antonio Franklin Jr., who was killed when he was shot in the head in Duncan Park in April. That march begins at 6 p.m. Saturday at Duncan Park.

Franklin said she wanted to impress on young people the need to speak up if they have information about a crime.

"The one thing I see is the lack of love," she said. "... We have got to restore and rebuild our city."

Karla Ward: (859) 231-3314. Twitter: @HLpublicsafety.

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