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Friday, September 17, 2021

Indy’s tragic violent weekend and the scourge of military weapons in the hood

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An AK-47 type assault rifle, used on battlefields from Vietnam to Ukraine to Afghanistan, killed Indianapolis Police Officer Perry Renn Saturday night in the heart of the Forest Manor neighborhood.

The gun was in the hands of Major Davis Jr., a 25-year-old with numerous arrests for non-violent drug offenses. But only one conviction; for a drug misdemeanor. Those claiming this crime was committed by a known felon; the facts say otherwise.

The second death of an IMPD officer in the past 10 months has unsettled Indianapolis. It doesn’t help that the assaults on IMPD officers have increased in the past weeks and months.

Those with their eyes and ears on and in the streets of our community’s neighborhoods have been warning police and any community leader that would listen that things were getting tense in the streets. That it was only a matter of time before things would get hot and explode.

Some concerns about Saturday’s tragedy.

Under current gun laws, Davis, who was not a convicted felon and whose only conviction was in 2008, could legally have owned the suspected murder weapon; under current state/Federal laws.

Many decry that Davis had a “criminal record,” but his arrests were all for non-violent drug crimes.

Now, after the legislature spent three years revising Indiana’s criminal laws to reduce jail time for non-violent offense, is the anger and angst over this tragedy going to lead for a call to bring back jail time for non-violent drug offenses?

We don’t have enough jail space in Indiana to handle that, which is why the Republican-majority legislature revised the criminal code. I’m upset Officer Renn was murdered by a high-powered bullet designed for combat use; not hunting deer or geese.

When I walked the halls of the NRA Convention 12 weeks ago, I was stunned to see billboards inside hawking military AK-47 style weapons and high-powered ammunition.

I hope to God that the guns and bullets I saw advertised there like popcorn, wasn’t what killed this brave, veteran officer.

Though I respect the Second Amendment, for the life of me I don’t understand why military-style weapons are allowed to be sold to anyone outside of our armed forces and law enforcement. These absolutely have no business on our streets!

We get all exorcized and angry about the scourge of illegal drugs. But, illegal guns are as much a scourge in our cities as heroin, meth or cocaine.

There’s an organization that’s trying to stand up against the use of illegal guns in American cities, Mayors Against Illegal Guns; which boasts over 1,000 mayors of big and small cities as members.

So, why isn’t our mayor – Greg Ballard – a member of Mayors Against Illegal Guns?

Nearly every major Midwestern city – Chicago, Milwaukee, Cleveland, Columbus, Milwaukee, Louisville, Minneapolis, Kansas City, St. Louis are members.

Why doesn’t Mayor Ballard feel that it’s not important that Indy publicly stands with our peer major cities and stand up against illegal guns?

I’d loved to ask our mayor that, but as you know, I’m not allowed to ask questions of our esteemed city/county chief executive.

Neither are the Recorder’s talented journalists.

So, I’m hoping that the journalists at the Star and Channels 6, 8, 13 and 59 ask the mayor the questions I’m banned from asking.

Our mayor brags that he’s considered a national leader in pushing electric cars, bike lanes, sewer projects and yes cricket fields. Our city and community would rather our mayor be a national leader in the fight against illegal guns and violence. The frills don’t work if fear keeps people from a city that has them.

What I’m Hearing in the Streets

Last month, the Sunday Star wrote about a lack of diversity, specifically women, on the boards of top Indiana for-profit corporations. The article briefly touched on a lack of Hispanic board members, but was oddly silent about Black board members.

So, I spent a couple of hour’s work, to learn about whether Indiana’s biggest corporations have African-American board members.

Eli Lilly, which has the best board gender/racial diversity of any Indiana for profit corporation, has board member Dr. Franklyn Prendergast, a professor of Biochemistry, Biology and Pharmacology at the Mayo Clinic.

Former Clinton Administration Labor Secretary Alexis Herman serves on Cummins board, which the Star inexplicably didn’t include in their corporate survey.

WellPoint, Indiana’s largest corporation has Pepsi Senior VP Robert Dixon Jr. on their board, while Vectren, the southern Indiana utility, has James DeGraffenreidt, a member of Maryland’s State Board of Education and former head of Washington (DC) Gas. (Disclosure: Recorder owner, Bill Mays, was formerly a member of both boards).

With the recent publicity of the lack of African-Americans employed at tech giant Google, I was pleasantly pleased to see that Finish Line’s African-American board member is Torrence Boone, a Google managing director.

NIPSCO, the northern Indiana utility and Simon Property group are among the notable Indiana corporations with no African-Americans on their corporate boards.

The late City-County Councilman and State Senator Glenn Howard made it a point during the 1980s and 1990s to publicly agitate for Blacks on Indiana’s major corporate boards. Back when Howard agitated, all the major corporate boards in this city were all white and virtually all male.

That’s changed a lot regarding gender diversity, but we’ve still got a long way to go regarding racial diversity.

Next Thursday, for the first time Indiana Black Expo honors a corporation at their Corporate Luncheon. Sadly, the corporation honored has no African-Americans on their board.

If IBE’s gonna honor corporations at their luncheon, they should’ve picked one with racial board diversity.

If longtime Expo board member Glenn Howard were around, he’d have said it would’ve been the right thing for Expo to do.

See ‘ya next week!

You can email comments to Amos Brown at acbrown@aol.com.

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