of eyewinesses in police abuse case
By AMOS BROWN III
It’s not the Rodney King tape or other outrageous videotaped scenes of police abuse of power seen over the years, but that Indianapolis Metropolitan Police video of an IMPD officer allegedly committing battery against an African-American in custody inflamed and angered Indianapolis’ quarter million African-American community.
The video polarized the city as African-Americans and some whites believed the officer was wrong, while many whites and a smattering of closed minded Blacks believed the officer was justified in kicking a suspect lying on the ground.
The city’s news media showed a tape. But there’s more damning evidence – eyewitness accounts. I know because eyewitnesses told me of the incident minutes after it happened.
That Expo Saturday night, July 21st, I stood at Illinois and Maryland observing, as I usually do on Expo Saturday, the conduct of police and the mostly young African-Americans crowding downtown sidewalks. During the 9 p.m. hour, I watched outside the Circle Centre mall entrance, walked through the maelstrom in front of the Steak & Shake, and observed from Palomino’s corner.
At one point, I saw an arrest as police rushed in and apprehended two folks in front of Steak & Shake and quickly hustled them across Maryland into the Merchants Plaza loading dock that served as the police command post.
Eventually, I started to walk back to the Convention Center, on the south side of Maryland when I was stopped by several members of the Faith Based Patrol, the volunteer group who was downtown walking the sidewalks as a peaceful counterbalance between police and youth.
In upset, agitated voices the volunteers said “Mr. Brown, a cop kicked and bloodied a Black man, while he was handcuffed on the ground.” They pointed to a spot inside the command post area wet with some liquid, “that’s where it happened, where they kicked him.” With my digital camera, from a distance, I took a picture of the spot.
The eyewitnesses, members of Second Baptist Church, had called their pastor who was also downtown volunteering. Pastor David Greene came within minutes, he too angry over what happened.
I told Pastor Greene and his members to document what they saw and provide him and me with copies. As I left, police came to speak to the eyewitnesses.
I received their recollections two days later and kept them private awaiting the outcome of the police investigations.
Besides the police shot videotape, I believe it was the eyewitness accounts of those Faith Based Patrol volunteers that led police brass and Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi to press charges. A decision that’s caused Brizzi to be vilified by unthinking whites in this city.
So far the system’s worked in this case. Let’s hope it continues to work and justice is served.
What I’m hearing in the streets
I got to see and hear two of three top Republican presidential candidates who were in Indy last week. With a choice between seeing Savion Glover or GOP candidate Mitt Romney tap-dance, I chose a real dancer, Glover.
However, I did check out former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and former senator and actor Fred Thompson. Huckabee, born in Hope like the only other person from Arkansas elected president, recently came in second in a pivotal straw poll of Iowa Republicans. Thompson, officially not yet a declared candidate, is being lusted after by Republicans unimpressed by the party’s other candidates.
I asked both Huckabee and Thompson how, if elected president, they would relate to and communicate with African-Americans.
Thompson danced around the question, saying first he “didn’t understand” what I was talking about. Then sounding like a Reagan clone, he offered platitudes about being a “president of all the people.”
Huckabee answered directly, talking about the African-American support (“48 percent of the Black vote) he’d gotten in Arkansas, his Black appointments, programs and investments he made in Black communities while governor. Huckabee stressed that Republicans must reach out to African-Americans.
Even though he’s very conservative on social issues, Huckabee impressed, Thompson didn’t. Let’s see how both (and dancer Romney) come across in next month’s Tavis Smiley hosted debate at Morgan State.
Fewer than 250 (I counted) attended Sunday’s anti-property tax forum at Light of the World Church. Roughly 60 percent of those attending were Black, the most Blacks to attend any anti-tax rally. Mayor Bart Peterson attended the rally and was well received by many there as the mayor continued to explain the crisis directly to the community.
There was plenty of wild rhetoric from anti-tax proponents, but no realistic solutions offered on reforming Indiana’s property tax system.
Usually in a political campaign the challenger is the first to propose debates, but in this unusual mayoral campaign, media made the first move. WISH-TV/Channel 8 moved first asking both candidates if they’d debate and incumbent Mayor Peterson agreed first and put out a press release last Friday.
Five hours later, Republican Greg Ballard’s campaign issued a challenge for two more debates on WTHR/Channel 13 and WRTV/Channel 6. Ballard, however, didn’t include in his challenge any debates involving Indianapolis Black media. A serious judgment error in a county that’s 27 percent Black; where Black voters are a critical voting group.
The National Football League continues to kick our community in the teeth with their exclusionary policies surrounding next week’s NFL Kickoff activities. The NFL, which prides itself on including minority-owned businesses in its Super Bowl events, flunked out with the kickoff here.
NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy admitted to me that no Black-owned businesses were hired. The NFL couldn’t even find any Black-owned caterers, security or limousine companies they could do business with.
Tens, perhaps hundreds of thousands of dollars is being spent on NFL kickoff events. But virtually no bucks have gone into the hands of Black business, Black media or Black entities in America’s 16th largest African-American community.
Dr. Patricia Maryland leaves St. Vincent’s Hospital to become Ministry Market Manager for Ascension hospitals in Detroit and four other Michigan communities. The parent company of St. Vincent’s, Ascension is America’s largest Catholic-run hospital system.
Dr. Maryland, who’s been in Indianapolis for four years, becomes Ascension’s highest ranking African-American executive and will run hospitals generating a quarter of Ascension’s revenue.
See ‘ya next week.
Amos Brown’s opinions are not necessarily those of The Indianapolis Recorder. You can contact him at (317) 221-0915 or e-mail him at ACBROWN@AOL.COM.