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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Stunners! Police Merit Board humiliates itself; Blacks fuel Dems gains in Indy

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To our African-American community, the IMPD Merit Board’s decision in the Brandon Johnson case was as outrageous as Dred Scott or Plessy vs. Ferguson.

Understand what the Merit Board said. Beating one’s face into a bloody pulp is acceptable police procedure; not excessive force.

As the kids would say; that logic is wack.

The six Merit Board members who voted for this illogic included two appointed by former Mayor Bart Peterson’s Public Safety Director, Earl Morgan; one appointed by the Ballard administration and current Public Safety Director Frank Straub; one by the GOP-controlled City-County Council and two by IMPD officers (aka the FOP). Three of the six are Republicans, the others Democrats.

City-County Council Minority Leader Joanne Sanders tells me that the Democrat appointed by Straub/Ballard was never “vetted” by council Democrats. The Ballard administration has routinely failed to ask for Democrats’ input on appointments to city boards and commissions; something other GOP mayors routinely did.

Interviewed on WISH-TV/Channel 8, Merit Board President Jeffrey Oberlies, the Republican appointed by the council in January 2009, defended their decision, saying the city “rushed to judgment” and that another officer was more culpable in the case than Officer Jerry Piland.

At least Oberlies was willing to stand before the community and explain his vote and decision.

Catherine Ross is the other African-American, besides Urban League President Joe Slash, on the Merit Board. Appointed by Morgan/Peterson, Ross has yet to explain why she seemingly supports police brutality and injustice.

As far as I’m concerned, Catherine Ross has forfeited her right to serve on the Merit Board representing our quarter-million strong African-American community. She should resign from the board immediately.

The Merit Board’s vote, with only Joe Slash standing up for what’s right, rightfully angered and stunned our community.

It puts Black leadership in a difficult position, as many in our community want a strong demonstration of anger and opposition to the decision and the continued intolerance towards African-Americans of some IMPD officers.

Many, including me, were livid at Piland’s comments after his exoneration where he said that officers “come to work everyday for us (officers).”

No, Officer Piland, that’s the problem with the mentality of some IMPD officers. Your “us” shouldn’t be just cops. “Us” should be everyone who lives and breathes in this city/county.

The Merit Board decision is another major problem for Mayor Ballard. It didn’t help that his response was somewhat uneven. Yes, he held a press conference expressing disappointment and muted outrage. But Ballard failed (again) to directly convey his feelings to our African-American community.

The mayor’s minions need to understand that IMPD’s travails fall squarely on his shoulders and is a major 2011 election issue. Especially after what happened Nov. 2.

On a day when Republicans nationally and statewide seemingly won everything that wasn’t nailed down, the victories by Democrats in Indianapolis/Marion County were extraordinarily stunning. Democrats now hold every countywide office, except mayor and council at-large seats.

It was a strong African-American vote that fueled those successes, as Blacks heeded the call to support President Barack Obama and oppose Gov. Mitch Daniels’ control of state government.

Congressman André Carson crushed by 30,000 votes Marvin Scott’s bigoted, tea party flavored campaign.

Sheriff-elect John Layton became the first Democrat to succeed a Democratic Marion County sheriff in decades.

Senator-elect Dan Coats’ temporary home was Indy, but Indy voted strongly for Brad Ellsworth. Hoosiers supported clear-cut election frauder Charlie White for secretary of state, but the best man for the job, Vop Osili, won Marion County, which gives Democrats control of local election mechanics.

Despite Gov. Daniels’ personal endorsement and campaign cash, Prosecutor-elect Terry Curry edged Mark Massa. The first time Democrats captured that office since Jeff Modisett in 1990.

Massa, along with Marvin Scott exhibited a new phenomenon in local Marion County politics. Ignoring Black voters in their marketing. Scott was the first Republican congressional candidate from Indy who largely refused to advertise his campaign to Blacks in decades, although he did place a small ad in the Recorder.

While Massa had a large ad in the Recorder, he was the first GOP prosecutor candidate in decades not to utilize Black radio. Past GOP prosecutor candidates specifically targeted messages to Black women. Massa’s failure to do that helped fuel his 9,000 vote loss.

The only major Democratic incumbents to lose were Wayne Township Trustee David Baird and state Rep. John Barnes.

Barnes, whose victory two years ago was fueled by Black Warren Township voters, might have lost because he seemingly ignored those same voters, ignoring Black media appearances and marketing.

Baird’s loss is cautionary for Democrats, especially African-American elected officials. It’s critical that they be seen as effective and competent in their jobs. Baird was dogged by charges of nepotism and ineffectualness by local TV. Baird’s tepid, somewhat arrogant response didn’t help with voters.

Our Black (and other Democratic elected officials) must understand that competence, candor and openness, with the media and the community, are critical if Democrats are to navigate the rough waters of the statewide and national GOP tide.

So now, Gov. Daniels and legislative Republicans are preparing their radical agenda, which will include an attack against township government, and by extension an attack on Black-elected officials in Indianapolis. The governor, aided by an aggressive posture by the Indianapolis Star, is targeting underperforming public schools and teachers. Is this an open attack just on IPS, or a more general move against the sins in our public schools throughout the state?

Finally, there’s Daniels’ surprising attack on the unemployed.

Before traveling to Asia, Daniels turned heartless advocating a cut in unemployment benefits; a cut so businesses that aren’t hiring the unemployed can be more “competitive.”

I’ll say more about that and the election’s ramifications later. Till then, See ‘ya next week.

You can e-mail comments to Amos Brown III at acbrown@aol.com.

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