Normally when I go cover a city budget address, I don’t expect to walk into the middle of a controversy.
Here’s what happened. I went to the Indy City-County Council meeting Monday night to cover the Mayor Greg Ballard’s budget address. In the Council Chambers, several Democratic Councilors displayed signs saying “Hands Up…Don’t Shoot” And it included a stick-like figure with his hands up. This is obviously the Councilors trying to show “solidarity” with what’s going on Ferguson, MO.
I have several issues with this.
- We still don’t know all the facts with respect to what happened.
- This was done on the day of the 10th anniversary of the death of IMPD Officer Jake Laird.
- Numerous young black men have been gunned down in Indy this year by other black men and no one has displayed a sign for them.
Now with that said, I did send a text message to two of the Councilors (there were about six total) who displayed the signs to find out what they were thinking. One declined, but Vop Osili of District 15, did get back with me. Here was his response…
“The issue of white police officer-on-black-youth homicide has pervasive nationally for generations. So many people, me included, feel increasing sensitivity about the ease with which kids (and I am aware many are far from being angels) can be singled out, gunned down and the person responsible walk away and resume life in a fairly short time. There is no humor here and no disrespect to the memory of our slain officer, none whatsoever. But there is a generational fear in so, so many families and decades of public nonchalance have hardened people to the plight.”
I fully understand that in some communities there is tension between the black community and law enforcement, and I will give Osili some props for getting back with me even though we disagree.
However, and you knew that was coming, I don’t think the Indianapolis City-County Council was the right place to do this sort of thing. I think it sends the wrong message and only causes more problems than it hopes to address because I think it can be interpreted as something against all law enforcement and not one individual who might have gone rogue.
What do you think?