In Louisville, Kentucky, violent crime is on the rise, and the number of homicides this year is on pace to outstrip last year's record high. As community members and grieving families search for solutions, Governor Matt Bevin proposed one of his own: prayer.
On Thursday, the governor addressed 400 people from West Louisville and suggested that the best way to stop crime in the area would be to send prayer groups block to block in particularly violent sections of the town, the Courier-Journal reports. He asked residents and religious leaders to adopt ten blocks, form into groups, and stroll along the route weekly while praying with their neighbours.
"That's it," the governor said at the meeting, according to local CBS affiliate WLKY. "Pretty unsophisticated, pretty uncomplicated, pretty basic, but I truly believe we're going to see a difference in our city."
While some people applauded Bevin's plan, many—including some West Louisville religious leaders—said it wouldn't help alleviate the neighbourhood's rising crime rate. Before the speech, West Louisville Ministers Coalition (WLMC) provided Bevin with a list of actual policy initiatives it wanted him to consider to cut down on crime, from reforming gun laws to protecting those who cooperate with the police, according to the Courier-Journal.
"He didn't say anything of substance," WLMC's Reverend Clay Calloway said. "He has a responsibility to produce public policy, regulation, and provide resources. We don't need a sermon or him quoting scripture, we know the Bible and we're already praying."
Last year, the Louisville Metro Police reportedly investigated 114 homicides, the highest tally the city's seen in 14 years. In the past five months alone, they've opened at least 52 criminal homicide investigations, and seen 145 shootings through the month of April.
According to WLKY, a man was shot multiple times in a nearby neighbourhood hours after the governor unveiled his plan.
"The governor needs to pray," one woman told the station after the meeting. "Tell him he needs to come out here for one week and live and see if he still wants to pray."
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