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Protest against hate held in neighborhood on Indianapolis' southwest side

Posted at 10:59 PM, Jun 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-18 23:21:08-04

INDIANAPOLIS — In 2020, there are still parts of Indianapolis, like Mars Hill on the southwest side, not quite overflowing with diversity.

Protesters gathered Thursday evening with some of the people who live there ready to change that.

"Mars Hill has had a reputation, just like Haughville and 42nd and Post and all those places and these reputations have been for years and they're not going to change overnight," John Schmitz, a Mars Hill resident and former independent mayoral candidate, said.

Elder Tyree Coleman organized the protest after they say an interracial couple moved to the area and received a less than warm welcome.

"This is happening still today and it shouldn't happen," Coleman said. The police is called on them for false reasons. They're constantly being harassed. When they leave their home they come back to things broken and vandalized and it just shouldn't happen."

Coleman grew up on the city's south side. He says he remembers a time when black and brown people knew better than to visit.

In some ways, Coleman said, those invisible lines still exist.

"We could not go to Beech Grove. We barley went to St. Francis Hospital," Coleman said. "We knew that we weren't allowed to go to Garfield Park and we couldn't come down here to Mars Hill."

While the lines of segregation are less visible now, Schmitz said he's using his privilege to stand up against the hate in his neighborhood.

"This is one of my neighbors that just moved in," Schmitz said. "I can't drive by here every day and see her struggling with this and turn a blind eye."

Coleman says he looks forward to the day when any shade of Hoosier is welcome in any part of Indianapolis.

"I tell people all the time that Indianapolis is really a great place," Coleman said. "We have some ugly parts of our past. We have some ugly parts of our present. But when people come together for the greater good I know that we win."

Organizers said they are planning more protests in the area, possibly every week.