For Two Cities – Carmel and Indianapolis – last week was the worst of times.
In the Carmel situation, there is no question that a crime occurred. At least two freshmen teammates were assaulted, in a sexual manner, by seniors on the men’s basketball team. These were felonies, at least deviate sexual assault and possibly criminal confinement.
School officials ignored student complaints, until a student was examined at a hospital after an assault. Even then they didn’t take it seriously, according to e-mails released by Carmel’s attorneys, until the city’s TV stations had gotten wind of the story. Then their insurance company was notified, who demanded info.
That’s because while the argument rages over whether the charges should have been felonies or misdemeanors, the civil liability remains.
These students, including two African Americans, were assaulted and violated during school time, on school property (locker room and a school bus), under school supervision.
Carmel taxpayers and their insurance carrier had better get ready because for students to be assaulted repeatedly on their property while school officials acted like “boys will be boys;” the cash register of justice will ring big.
Another reason is this isn’t the first case of sexual misconduct in the Carmel schools. There was a scandal 11 years ago involving similar illegal assaults against students while adults looked the other way.
The Carmel case has severely damaged race relations in Indianapolis. And one of the criminal miscreants being African American makes the case even more troubling.
While the Black defendant shows some signs of remorse, the white defendants act as if they’ve done nothing wrong. It’s that behavior, that stereotypical Carmel attitude, that has angered our African-American community and many, many others.
Carmel is Indiana’s wealthiest city, with median household incomes of $96,000. The 3,751 Blacks of Carmel’s 71,141 population have a high median incomes exceeding $65,000.
Carmel oozes an image of wealth, privilege and arrogance. But beneath that image is a veneer of naked racism that’s existed for years. In the late 1990s, the NAACP and the ACLU charged that Carmel cops racially profiled Blacks. The city settled that complaint and another by a Black state policeman also charging racial profiling.
But last week, Paul Ogden, a white attorney activist wrote in his Internet blog that a colleague observed scores of Blacks awaiting hearings in Carmel’s Traffic Court. For a town that’s 5.3 percent Black to have scores of Blacks ticketed raises questions that Carmel’s ’90’s profiling has returned.
Carmel may have million-dollar mansions and a pretentious new cost-overrun arts palace, but they have severe problems treating African Americans fairly and with justice in an atmosphere free from racial and sexual harassment.
In short, for African Americans, Carmel is the new Martinsville!
But, Indianapolis isn’t exempt from racism or racial profiling!
The severe facial beating of 15-year-old Brandon Johnson by at least four IMPD officers last week was a crime destined to happen after Mayor Greg Ballard, under pressure to take a bite out of increasing crime, ordered IMPD to deploy additional officers in high-crime neighborhoods.
So, in one of the city-county’s lowest crime neighborhoods, in a majority-white neighborhood, we had an incident where police arrested a 14-year-old for an alleged home break-in. His brother, Brandon, saw the arrest and asked the police why they were making the arrest. As Brandon and the cops exchanged words, a confrontation escalated into police taking Brandon into custody. And in the process, Brandon lost some teeth, and his face was severely beaten, with an eye swollen shut and other facial bruises and lacerations.
The Black community first heard of this incident when the mother called WTLC-AM (1310‘s) “Afternoons with Amos” to recount the incident, from the family’s point of view.
The family also called the TV stations, whose viewers saw the grievous injuries in stark HDTV. (Note to police everywhere, HDTV magnifies and amplifies. Beatings look 1,000 percent worse in HD than in the old TV formats).
After seeing the TV images of the beating or the images in the Indianapolis Star, our Black community was angry and inflamed. They wanted action and wanted to hear from Black leadership – now. But that leadership was oddly silent. It took me to issue a public call to get Black leadership to respond to this vicious attack.
But while the response from Black leadership was slow, response from city officials was even more slothful. Mayor Ballard issued no statement. Deputy Mayor Olgen Williams responded on the radio Friday, five days after the incident.
If I hadn’t called the public safety director’s office, he wouldn’t have responded directly to our Black community on this issue.
Appearing on Afternoons with Amos, Public Safety Director Frank Straub tried to assuage community anger, but Straub doesn’t understand it when people tell him this case reminds them of Michael Taylor, because Straub doesn’t understand that for Indianapolis, Michael Taylor was this community’s Abner Louima or Amadou Diallo.
It is no secret that IPMD has gotten far more aggressive on the streets of Indianapolis, especially in encounters with Blacks. Straub and police Chief Paul Ciesielski tell us they’ve told their officers to be courteous and civil, but the reality is the officers are acting like Marines at Fallujah, and not well-trained Marines at that.
With a declining number of Blacks on the police force, its time to question how new officers are training and how current ones get continuing education. Who educates police on our Black community? What are they taught? Do they still think we all live in so-called “inner city ghettos” when the reality is many live in white-majority neighborhoods like Brandon Johnson?
At the same time, our community doesn’t know how they’re supposed to respond when confronted by officers or when they see family members and children being arrested or hassled. They don’t know because Straub, Ciesielski and IMPD haven’t a clue on how to communicate with our community.
They think talking with ministers is the way to communicate with a quarter-million Blacks. Worse, they don’t understand, especially Straub, the unique role Black media – print and broadcast – plays in Indianapolis. Six months into his reign, Straub has never met with Black media leadership and his PR mavens are clueless and disdainful about Black media. That’s not the way to build community policing or interest with a complex, geographically diverse Black community.
See ‘ya next week!