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NAACP rallies for peace, against violence

Jaronda Ware wants Fort Wayne's youth to know gun violence leaves more than just shell casings behind.

A relative, Gerelle Borum, was the victim of a drive-by shooting on March 19.

"Gun deaths don't have an age (limit)," she said. "It doesn't matter how old you are anymore."

Ware and about 80 other residents and civic leaders participated in an anti-violence rally Saturday hosted by the Fort Wayne NAACP. The peace event was highlighted by a march through several southeast neighborhoods.

This year, 15 deaths in Fort Wayne and Allen County have been ruled homicides, including two shootings by police and one death from injuries suffered in a 1980 gunfire attack. On Saturday, police also shot and killed another man.

Barbara Bolling, NAACP Indiana State Conference president, is familiar with the statistics but says, cliché or not: People can make a difference.

"We can never just throw up our hands and accept that this is how things are," she said. "As long as there is breath in our bodies there's always the opportunity for change."

City Councilman Geoff Paddock, D-5th, believes so, too.

"I've been visiting with several neighborhood associations over the past several weeks and there's been a unifying effect," said Paddock, who participated in the march. "This shows that we care about our young people."

Eric Brown, a member of the Hell Raisers motorcycle club, came clad in a black vest that featured a red skull logo.

"You can't judge a person by just looking at them," Brown said. "I want people to know that."

He and several of his biker buddies participated in Saturday's four-hour event. Brown and Ware have three children together.

"I want my kids to know that there are other choices," Ware said.

According to court records, Josiah Thomas admitted to shooting Borum when he saw his victim walking along Rudisill Boulevard near Indiana Avenue. Thomas is charged with murder.

Borum was 22. Police did not reveal the motive in the shooting.

Signs reading, "We Shall Not Be Moved" and "Pick Up A Book, Not A Gun" were carried by marchers Saturday. Various books were handed out as well.

"We have to take up the mantle that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. began," said the Rev. Dr. Saharra Bledsoe, local NAACP president. "We want the young people to pick up a book, starting with God's holy book."