NewsEducation / February 13, 2020

Phalen Students, School Leaders Seek Normalcy & Criticize Mayor In Wake Of Quadruple Homicide

Phalen Students, School Leaders Seek Normalcy & Criticize Mayor In Wake Of Quadruple HomicideCharter school operator Phalen Leadership Academies released an open letter to Mayor Joe Hogsett that accused him of failing miserably to protect families. Students say they feel abandoned by city officials. far eastside, Mayor Joe Hogsett, Phalen Leadership Academy, violence2020-02-13T00:00:00-05:00
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Phalen Students, School Leaders Seek Normalcy & Criticize Mayor In Wake Of Quadruple Homicide

Nicole Fama, principal of James and Rosemary Phalen Leadership Academy, says students feel like city leaders have abandoned them on the Far Eastside.

Eric Weddle/WFYI News

In the week since four young people died in a shooting at the Carriage House Apartments, community groups and ministers have criticized the city leaders for partisan politics and not doing enough to stop violence. Charter school operator Phalen Leadership Academies released an open letter to Mayor Joe Hogsett that accused him of “failing miserably” to protect families.

INTERVIEW Click link above for interview with WFYI's Eric Weddle and James and Rosemary Phalen Leadership Academy students and Principal Nicole Fama 

Earl Phalen, the network’s CEO, wrote that he and other school leaders are “disgusted by the lack of leadership and the lack of safety for our children and families” on the Far Eastside. Phalen says many families at his Eastside schools are impacted by the ongoing shootings and killings. He says they also lack basic infrastructure, like street lights and sidewalks, and job opportunities. 

“Students can internalize that in a very negative way -- that they are not worthy, and that they deserve to, to live in a war zone, out here on the Far Eastside,” Phalen told WFYI.

WFYI's Eric Weddle spoke with Nicole Fama, principal of James and Rosemary Phalen Leadership Academy, a middle-high school just a half-mile from the site of the Feb. 5 shooting, about the aftermath and the students’ feeling of abandonment by city leaders. Weddle also spoke with three students -- freshmen Akaiyah and Tae’Vion and junior Darrance -- about their daily tension and their frustration with violence in their neighborhood.

In a statement from Hogsett’s office, Deputy Chief of Staff Taylor Schaffer said the city prays for the family of those killed and that “we must also acknowledge that this is a reality for far too many in our community.”

“Despite significant investments in policing and neighborhood anti-violence initiatives in recent years, time and time again we are confronted with the ripple effects created by a proliferation of guns, drugs, and poverty in our neighborhoods,” Schaffer said.

She said the city shares the frustrations and anger but also remains confident “that through collaboration, engagement, and partnership we can take real action to stem the tide of violent crime in our community.”

Phalen wants the city to invest in a wide range of efforts to improve conditions on the Far Eastside. Some of those include: funding a community center, improving sidewalks and street lighting, implement a community-based workforce development program and the demolition of all vacant housing.

Police identified the Carriage House shooting victims as Braxton Ford, 21; Kimari Hunt, 21; Jalen Roberts, 19; and Marcel Wills, 20. No suspects have been publicly identified.

Anyone with information should call the IMPD Homicide Office at 317-327-3475 or Crime Stoppers of Central Indiana at 317-262-8477.

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