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Indy10 Black Lives Matter responds to city's report critical of IMPD's protest response

Indianapolis protest.JPG
Posted at 9:45 PM, Mar 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-03 22:12:35-05

INDIANAPOLIS — Members of Indy10 Black Lives Matter this week said a report released by the city last week criticizing the police response to protests that turned violent last May misrepresented and omitted key details of the confrontations between police and protesters.

The city's report, prepared by a three-person independent review panel empaneled by Mayor Joe Hogsett, said the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department was unprepared during the weekend of May 29. It cited how a lack of training and planning within the department and communication with people in the streets led to violence that occurred during the nighttime hours. The report was also critical of police tactics which escalated tensions within the crowds.

READ MORE | Report says IMPD tactics increased tensions during May 2020 protests

Two people were killed, several were injured, and dozens were arrested during the last weekend of May, which came soon after the police killings of George Floyd in Minneapolis and Dreasjon Reed in Indianapolis.

"It is clear that the magnitude of the gatherings in Downtown Indianapolis that weekend were unprecedented; but to a certain extent, they were insufficiently anticipated by IMPD, given the tensions that had been building since early May in the city," the report reads.

In its response to the report, members of Indy10 Black Lives Matter said while they appreciate certain points in the report, "we disagree with the overall framing and characterization of state-sanctioned violence in Indianapolis that the report seeks to address."

"It is our sincere hope that our elected officials, especially those with jurisdiction over Indianapolis, and the general public alike will consider our thoughts on the report as we continue our fight for Black lives," the Indy10 Black Lives Matter response states.

Among other things, Indy10 Black Lives Matter said the use of pepper spray and engagement of protesters by IMPD officers prior to nightfall on May 29 "suggest that the proximity of the police and their attire were not the only causes of increased tension (as alleged in the report.)" Indy10 said the confinement of protesters to the circle, direct confrontation by a line of police, and the indiscriminate use of pepper spray marked "a shift in the tone of police response that would characterize the rest of the night and the weekend."

Indy10 also criticized the report's omission of an incident where a young woman was beaten by members of IMPD's Event Response Group as they arrested her for violating curfew. The incident was caught on video and by leaving the incident out of the report, Indy10 said the report "missed an opportunity to examine the organizational culture of IMPD revealed by its response to public outcry over the viral video of the arrest."

The response also criticized the lack of context of the report to include a mention of footage that showed police firing warning shots as protesters approached the governor's mansion during a June 1 protest. During that protest, video of an IMPD officer hugging a protester was included in the report as an example of de-escalating the situation. Indy10, however, said the account failed to mention that protesters likely feared for their safety or lives after the warning shots were fired and noted that police were unwilling to deploy tear gas in the wealthy, predominantly white neighborhood around the governor's mansion after the indiscriminate use downtown "underscores the inequitable policing of neighborhoods along lines of race and class — the very injustices that brought protesters to the streets in the first place."

Read the full response from Indy10 Black Lives Matter: