Editorial: We can do something about rise in homicides

“We don’t want Luke to be another statistic, and it’s bad what’s happening in this world,” Kelley Poindexter of Columbus said days after his son was shot and killed at an apartment complex in Indianapolis.

Luke Poindexter, 22, was going to be a father in another month. He’d been a three-sport letter-winner a few years back at Columbus East High School. He was working and studying for his career when his life was senselessly cut short while he was working as a delivery driver.

“It’s horrible, and it’s affected a lot of people,” his father said. He had been lifted, however, by the outpouring of support his family had received. “We didn’t know how many people loved Luke,” he said.

Kelley Poindexter’s loss has motivated him to want to do something to stem the violence that pervades our world. So many of us who have been touched by violence, or know someone who has, want to do something. Anything. But what? How can one person change what seems like such a terrible, intractable ill? It’s a desperate feeling that sometimes can feel like hopelessness.

It is bad what is happening in this world. This sounds like a broken record, but Indianapolis is on a pace to set a record for murders, recently surpassing 200 homicides this year. Our capital city, like other big cities nationwide, is beset by a toxic subculture of guns, crime and killing that poisons minds, claims lives and decimates our sense of humanity.

It would be easy to say this is just a big city problem, but that wouldn’t be true.

Columbus, Bartholomew County and Jennings County have not been immune to the trend of an increased number of murders and attempted murders since the pandemic began. There have been nine murder or attempted murder charges filed since fall of 2020, many of them progressing through the local court systems now.

What can we do about this? There are no easy fixes, but there are things we can do that matter.

First and foremost, we can comfort those who are suffering the violent loss of a son, daughter, mother, father, friend or family member. We can support the survivors, empathize with them, grieve with them, and help them through difficult times. Sometimes, just listening is the most important thing you can do.

Second, we can insist on justice for victims. Those responsible for violent crime, especially murder, must be made to understand that they will pay for their crimes. We can support law enforcement and the justice system and insist that victims’ rights be respected at least as much as those of criminal defendants. We can also urge law enforcement at the highest levels to go after possession of firearms by felons — those statistically likeliest to commit violent crimes.

Third, we can model behaviors in our own lives that may serve as examples. We can seek to be kind even in difficult-to-impossible circumstances. We can always strive to be our best selves — a task we’re sure to fail, except for the trying. We can hope that in doing our best and being our best, others might, too.

Last but not least, we can honor the victims and keep their names and memories alive. That’s the most certain way we can ensure that they never become just another statistic.