Alcus Cromatie leads the Pledge of Allegiance at the Official Naming Ceremony of the Mayor Rudolph "Rudy" Clay Memorial Highway in Gary, Ind. on Friday, July 11th. The city of Gary renamed a portion of highway 20 after Rudolph "Rudy" Clay, | Taylor Irby/for Sun-Times Media
MAYOR: MORE THAN 1 ANSWER
Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson said this week’s violence was frustrating and tragic.
“Police can’t sit in every living room. You have to have things to resolve conflicts,” she said.
Freeman-Wilson said she’s considering a multifaceted approach to stem the violence. She is expected to implement a program called Homicide Watch in the near future.
“We have almost become desensitized to violence,” she said.
Freeman-Wilson said Decarol Deloney-Cain, 54, who was found dead in the trunk of an abandoned car on Monday, was one of her first clients when she started her law career in the city. She handled a civil matter for Deloney-Cain, the mayor said.
Freeman-Wilson said a concentrated approach is needed to show that each death is a tragedy to each family. “It will have to matter. People must be willing to serve as witnesses and people must look out for their neighbors. Prosecutors must follow through.”
“People think we need more officers, more jobs. There’s no one answer.”
Updated: August 13, 2014 6:10AM
GARY — While tragedy dominated the week in this violence-weary city, state and local officials came together in joy on the steps of City Hall on Friday to remember Gary’s biggest booster, former mayor Rudy Clay.
Officials unveiled a large sign designating a portion of U.S. 20 (5th Avenue), from Interstate 65 west to Cline Avenue, as the Mayor Rudolph “Rudy” Clay Memorial Highway.
The gathering took on a somber tone as Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson called for a moment of silence to honor slain Gary police officer Jeffrey Westerfield, Crown Point resident Decarol Deloney-Cain and unnamed victims of violence this week, including the shocking deaths of an elderly Gary couple stabbed to death earlier Friday. Westerfield was shot in his squad car Sunday.
“The General Assembly paused in their bickering to come together for this renaming, not because Rudy Clay died, but because he lived and touched so many lives,” said Freeman-Wilson.
Clay, who served as mayor from 2006 to 2011, died last year from cancer at age 77.
State Rep. Charlie Brown, D-Gary, read the state resolution that praised Clay for more than 40 years of public service as an Army veteran, state senator, county elected official and Clay’s favorite job — mayor of Gary.
City Council President Kyle Allen said Clay took over the city at the lowest point in its history during a dire financial crisis stemming from a $36 million budget deficit Clay inherited. “He kept the faith. ... He persevered and we continued to move forward. He stayed the course.”
Former NFL football player and actor Fred “The Hammer” Williamson recalled attending kindergarten with Clay and their childhood days in the 2600 block of Polk Street.
Williamson drew laughter as he offered his own version of the phone call he would make to Clay, telling him about the renaming of the state highway.
Lake County Clerk Mike Brown said President Barack Obama wouldn’t have seen Indiana turn blue in 2008 if it weren’t for Clay’s tireless support.
“He was a political father who loved everyone. ... And a maximum promoter. Whatever you needed. ... A comb, a brush, he had it with his name on it,” Brown said.
Clay’s son, Rudy Clay Jr., thanked the crowd saying, “I really wish he was here to see this.”