Gang members call for truce, city leaders hope it lasts

Gang members call for truce, city leaders hope it lasts
Gang members at press conference on Friday. (SOURCE: WFIE)
Gang members at press conference on Friday. (SOURCE: WFIE)
Evansville crime scene. (SOURCE: WFIE)
Evansville crime scene. (SOURCE: WFIE)

EVANSVILLE, IN (WFIE) - Following a chaotic bar shooting on North Garvin Street in Evansville last weekend, members of two rival gangs now calling for an end to the violence.

"At this point, I'm done. I'm tired. Everybody is tired," explains Denzael Jones.

The tiredness and exhaustion is shared by so many.

Parents who don't let their kids play outside for fear of them taking a bullet.

Police who deal with 10% of the population, 90% of the time.

And now that tired feeling is shared by members of two rival Evansville gangs.

" I feel like we need to squash it," explains Tony Johnson.

Tony Johnson, Denzael Jones, and Quentin Jones sat in front of our cameras Friday, announcing a 30-day truce.

A call to stop the killings, stop the shootings, stop the violence.

It's amazing to note Tony Johnson and Denzael Jones used to be best friends, growing up together in Evansville.

" We grew up together, I remember staying at his crib every night," explains Jones.

But that same sentiment not shared anymore.  The two are members of rival gangs, Savage Life and WAGG Block.

" I just turned 24-years-old last week, and we're doing this?  What we're doing now, is going to determine the rest of our lives," says Jones.

The disputes started five years ago.

No one exactly knows why, escalating from street fights, to bullets flying.

" We got friends that ain't never coming home," explains Jones.

" My reason for coming here isn't just about my safety.  It's about the safety of my friends, my brothers, my kids, and the community," explains Johnson.

The young men have records, there's no denying that, but no one forced them to make this truce.

" It's fun when you are out there doing it.  But when those bars shut and you're sitting there all by yourself, you think that you could have prevented all of this from happening."

But will the truce hold up?  Will it last longer than 30 days?

" Why we have to wait until we in a cell to squash our problems?  It doesn't matter what colors you wear, we're all going to end up in the same cell," explains Jones.

Both sides influenced to come together by Henrietta Jenkins, and other community leaders who want the violence to stop.

Jenkins says within the next 30 days, she will announce a 3-part plan to help make this truce last.

That plan will focus on more in-depth community policing efforts, better plans for how to give chances to convicted felons, and more ideas on activities for youth in Evansville.

She plans to meet with Evansville Police Chief Billy Bolin and Vanderburgh County Prosecutor Nick Hermann in the next few weeks.

Chief Bolin says he's "cautiously optimistic" about the call to end the violence, but hopes it will last.

Members of the groups M.A.S.K. (Mothers Against Senseless Killing) and BOSS Prep Academy were in the crowds Friday morning.

Showing their support for the new found call to action.

"We can say anything we want to say.  But until these guys figured it out, there's only so much we can do.  They have to want the violence to stop.  They have to want to end this.  They can be the difference."

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