Faith group pushes for Lexington city leaders to address violence, housing

Just 24 hours following a tragic act of violence in Lexington, community activist group BUILD Lexington held a call for action addressing violent crime...
Published: May. 3, 2022 at 11:05 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Just 24 hours following a tragic act of violence in Lexington, community activist group BUILD Lexington held a call for action addressing violent crime, mental health care, and affordable housing.

Hundreds came to hear from city leaders of how they are addressing these issues. Members of BUILD said they were seeking public commitments from local leaders to address high concerns they have for issues like gun violence and mental health.

It came as some shared their personal tragedies and losses from violence in the city.

“We are here tonight for the opportunity to hold our city’s officials accountable, to create a city that implements the demands of justice for its people,” said Rev. Rick Smith with the Second Christian Church.

During the organization’s annual Nehemiah Action Assembly, hundreds from churches across Lexington came to call for action on violence, mental health and affordable housing.

“We are at a crossroads, and we know where we want to go. We are here to prepare the future of our city. We are here to fight for justice,” said Rev. Richard Gaines with Consolidated Baptist Church.

Thirteen people have been killed from violence in Lexington this year, and eight were from a shooting. It’s a painful loss Tonya Lindsey knows too well from when her son was killed.

“Sunday, July 28, 2013, was the worst day of my life. I will never forget that day. I can’t forget that day. It is burned into every fiber of my body,” Lindsey said.

BUILD has been pushing for the city to adopt a group violence intervention (GVI) strategy. They said it would dramatically cut violence in the city.

“According to the Gifford Law Center, the Department of Justice gives GVI its highest ranking. Noting the existence of multiple studies confirming GVI’s efficacy,” said Bryna Reed with Good Shepherd Episcopal Church.

They said the city hasn’t been receptive, claiming there are other strategies that work better.

“Chief Weathers has said GVI is not the best, and there are other strategies out there. So what is better? We are willing to learn what is better. And if there’s better, why aren’t we doing it all ready?” Reed said.

Mayor Linda Gorton was not at the forum. Her spokesperson said she had a conflict in her schedule but did meet with five members of BUILD before the meeting.

Her office said she was represented at the event by Police Chief Lawrence Weathers and his staff, and also Devine Carama and Larry Johnson from One Lexington.

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