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Help us stop the killing, Gary officials, residents implore

Pastor Obadiah WilsGrace Unity Church Gary tries rally residents from their homes Dorie Miller Saturday afternoon. A Stop Violence march

Pastor Obadiah Wilson of the Grace Unity Church in Gary tries to rally residents from their homes in Dorie Miller Saturday afternoon. A Stop the Violence march made it's way from the entrance at 21st and Alabama to the spot where 19-year-old Andre Blissitt was shot and killed this week. | Jeffrey D. Nicholls~Sun-Times Media

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How to help

Anyone with information on the murder of Andre Blissitt or any other crime in Gary is asked to call the city’s Crime Tip Hotline at (866) 274-6374. Rewards are available for tips resulting in convictions, and all callers are promised anonymity.

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Updated: April 26, 2012 8:22AM



GARY — As the city reels from a particularly brutal week of violence, municipal officials, the Gary Police Department and residents are imploring everyone to break the silence.

Dorie Miller Housing Development residents were reluctant to join a protest march Saturday afternoon, but eventually, more than 50 people congregated in front of a makeshift memorial where 19-year-old Andre Blissitt of Indianapolis was shot and killed Tuesday night. Blissitt was visiting his mother, Timiko Blissitt, and sister, Nakita Muex, when he was caught in a shooting spree in the complex.

Muex, 21, didn’t have the words to describe the pain she and her mother feel.

“This was my only brother,” she said quietly into the megaphone. “Now, it’s just me and my momma, and it hurts.”

Activist and march coordinator Dwight Taylor was joined by Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson, state Sen. Earline Rogers, Gary Police Chief Wade Ingram and several of his key administrators — all of them echoed the same message: The city is there for them, and they want to help.

The mayor, just returned from Gary Day at Operation PUSH headquarters in Chicago, referenced the Trayvon Martin case in Sanford, Fla.; while the situation there is tragic, they said, Gary has tragedies of its own every day. Residents, they insisted, must put aside their distrust of the authorities and help police do their job.

“Our young men are killing each other,” Freeman-Wilson said. “It is time that those of us who know and are willing to do what is right to speak up.

“We know that majority rules, and I know that the majority of the people in Gary are law-abiding, God-fearing, peace-loving people who want the same thing: for our children to grow up without the fear of getting gunned down.”

Ingram said he didn’t want to hide the fact that 10 people in the city had been shot this week, nine of whom were African-American. But he, too, said people must try to break the “no-snitch” cycle.

“In half of the cases we work, the victims refuse to cooperate because it’s a ‘macho’ thing; they think, ‘I can handle this myself,’ and they try to take matters into their own hands,” Ingram said.

Others are afraid of what will happen to them if they tell what they know, he said.

The department has made more than 250 arrests this month, Ingram said, and he plans to talk to Rogers and Freeman-Wilson about enacting more stringent gun laws in the city. He also plans to start enforcing three rules on the books that haven’t been: curfew, loitering and truancy.

“When kids are outside after 10 p.m., they’re one of two things: victims or perpetrators,” he said. “Parents need to get their kids inside.”

Lifelong resident Rita Daniels said the issue goes deeper and that if police want people to respond, they have to reach them on a more holistic level.

“People need to know that they matter,” she said. “Do you remember when you were a kid and you had that one teacher who made you feel important?

“The people (in Dorie Miller) are a very tight-knit group, and I know they know what happened. But if they don’t feel like they matter, they’re going to say, ‘Well, you don’t care about us, so why should we tell you?’ ”



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