Kentucky’s conservative governor, Matt Bevin, addressed a meeting recently, revealing his plan to curb Louisville's growing violence problem. His solution was unusual: “praying patrols”.
Louisville had 123 cases of homicides last year, mostly by gun, breaking the previous record of 110 lives lost in 1971. It is expected, the city will break the 2016 record, this year.
According to reports, “Bevin urged faith leaders, public officials and residents to take a 10-block span, walk corner to corner, and pray with the community two to three times a week during the next year.”
Not only was this supposed solution unusual, it was extremely ignorant. The governor also did not specify who would organize these prayer sessions, when they will begin and, most importantly, how they will reduce violence.
“Bevin pointed to several West End ZIP codes in need of the spiritual actions he outlined — he suggested 10 or more walks in 40203, 40210, 40211, 40212 and 40215 in his document titled ‘Reclaiming Our Communities,'” the Courier-Journal reported.
The governor later clarified his office won’t be necessarily active in the prayer walks, but he suggested local churches to get involved. “I'm going to ask you to walk that block, do it at the same time every single week," Bevin said. "I'm going to ask you to stick with your block all year."
During his speech, Toya Johnson, a retired bus driver, called out Bevin for being a "hypocrite." She also explained violence was not the only problem in West End, problems like drugs and homelessness, that later become the root cause of such violence, also exist, and need to be sorted out.
She suggested a better and realistic solution would be to invest money. “He doesn't care about the West End,” she said after walking out early. “He is an insult to Louisville. … He won’t come down and walk with us.”
The West Louisville Ministers Coalition reproved Bevin’s solution to reduce violence. “If you are serious about fixing violence in west Louisville, then you must have the courage to address its root causes of injustice and racism,” said religious leader, Rev. Clay Calloway .
“He’s really having an oversimplified discussion about a cultural and spiritual deficit, which is really irresponsible at the end of the day,” explained Rashaad Abdur-Rahman, director of Safe & Healthy Neighborhoods.
“This was a waste of time,” said the Rev. Timothy Findley of Kingdom Fellowship Christian Life Center in Louisville. “Prayer is always good, but we’ve been praying a long time and it’s time government offer some practical help like funding for jobs, education and youth centers.”
Micheshia Norment, whose 7-year-old son, Dequante Hobbs, was killed last week by a stray bullet, naturally had reservations with Bevin’s plan. Norment said the governor’s plan was a "good thought" but was unconvinced with it. "It doesn't matter if it's practical or not," Norment said. "It won't bring my son back."
Banner/thumbnail credit: Reuters