FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Recent deadly shootings involving police across the country have served as additional motivation for a local activist group to make changes in the community. Co-founders of ChangeMakers Fort Wayne talked with WANE 15 Friday.
ChangeMakers co-founders Alisha Rauch and Daylana Saunders reacted to the recent shooting of 13-year-old Adam Toledo in Chicago with frustration.
“That video that we saw was really, really disturbing,” Rauch told WANE 15. “You see how quick a life can be taken and how quick they are to pull a trigger. Even when he through the gun down and he turned around to surrender and he was still killed. I really don’t have the words for how that makes me feel seeing that. I have a 14-year-old son. I just couldn’t imagine going through that.”
“I saw some things that troubled me on so many different sides,” Saunders said.
Saunders explained that she believes there were systemic issues at play in creating a troubled teen, while also noting that an officer made a split-second decision in a way that he is trained to do.
“I do think that we some times we focus on symptoms, when we should be focusing on systems,” Saunders added. “This system is built to do exactly what it’s doing and our country is saying ‘no more.'”
The activist group has talked about changing the way police departments are structured, including ensuring ‘bad people’ aren’t hired. In addition to policing, they have also called for more diversity in community leadership and decision making roles.
“The amount of black and brown people, people of color in these different positions is so minute, it’s ridiculous,” Rouch said. “One of the things we’re focusing on is diversifying our courts, diversifying in every area of policing and social services – that’s huge too. That affects our families and our children – so we have people who understand our culture, the things that they’ve been through, that we’ve been through, that understand these things so they can make better decisions for us.”
The two women have been been calling for people to become more active in the community and get involved in the political process while also advocating for federal funds to reach diverse organizations that help feed, educate and uplift people in the community.
“The things that are going on in Minnesota and Chicago are happening here,” Saunders added. “People are being marginalized and oppressed in Fort Wayne, Indiana as well, in Allen County. We are lacking diversity in our courts. We are lacking diversity in higher level positions in jobs and universities. There’s a lot of diversifying that we need to do.”
While Saunders told WANE 15 that the group is non-partisan. She said they partner with whatever party uplifts their community and concerns. They are encouraging people to sign up with the county Democratic party to be chairs or vice-chairs in precincts that are open. They’ve also campaigned for Lori Morgan to replace Allen Superior Court Judge Charles Pratt when he retires May 1.