LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — The Fayette County Sheriff's Office joined with survivors of violence in Lexington to throw a block party honoring the memory of a prominent anti-violence activist. It was an opportunity for people to get involved with their community and, they hope, to help drive violence out.
For Ricardo Franklin, the night brings a lot of memories of his mom, Anita Franklin.
"She just always was pretty straightforward. She didn't sugarcoat anything. She kept it a buck with me. She meant business and I knew she meant business," he said.
Anita Franklin became a prominent anti-violence activist in Lexington after Ricardo's brother, Antonio, was shot and killed in 2014. Anita died in 2020. The block party is named after her.
"The city of Lexington has really given us a voice, and they've welcomed us the past several years, so an event like this to bring this here, it just means a lot to me to say thank you," Ricardo said.
The goal is to connect younger kids and their families with law enforcement and other community resources. Ricardo works as a community outreach coordinator for the Fayette County Sheriff's Office. He says that's the kind of thing anyone can do.
"It starts in the community. It starts at home. I think what happens at home really just needs to step it up a little bit more. Our community members, we need them as well. I've said multiple times that it's not just figures like me or people in positions like me, people in power, it's everybody. Anyone can do this, and we're asking that you step up and do it," he said.
Lexington has had a rough year - nearly 40 homicides so far and 100 shootings overall. Ricardo tries to focus on the positive, though, in areas where he can help make a change.
"I try not to think about numbers at all just because those are lives being taken away. I really do try to stay away from the numbers and stay positive and find different ways that I can motivate and inspire my community to want to better and end this violence," he said.
As the city's leaders look for ways to turn the tides of violence, Ricardo and the rest of the community members here are happy to take a few moments to enjoy the company and remember the woman who inspired all of this.
"I just know this is exactly what my mom wanted to do, so to be able to do that again is amazing. To see friends and family here as well in a setting like this, it's happy, it's vibrant. I couldn't dream of a better situation than this," he said.