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Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Sens. Melton, Ford ‘rushed’ by Capitol Police at Statehouse

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State Sens. Eddie Melton and J.D. Ford say they were “rushed” by Capitol Police inside the Indiana Statehouse on July 11 after they helped a crowd of people move inside to avoid a thunderstorm.

The senators recalled the alleged incident in a joint press release July 14.

According to the press release, the senators helped lead a group of about 50 people — who were attending the “Beyond the Big Tent — Black Voices in Politics” rally — inside the Statehouse. Capitol Police later “rushed over to the senators, quickly escalating the situation into an aggressive confrontation.”

Ford (D-Indianapolis) said in a statement they were first approached by staff and private security who demanded to see their credentials. Security initially said it was OK for them to be at the Statehouse, which is closed to tours because of COVID-19, but then called over two Capitol Police officers.

“This interaction with the officers was aggressive from the start and could have been de-escalated, but was not,” Ford said.

State Senate candidate Belinda Drake was a guest at the event and said in a press release the officers were singularly focused on Melton, who is Black, and one of the officers “popped the clip on his firearm holster.”

That detail wasn’t included in Ford and Melton’s press release. A spokesperson for Ford said the senator can only confirm what was quoted in his statement and that he can’t comment further because of an ongoing internal investigation.

Ford did say in his statement that Melton “experienced some of the same police bias we were there to speak out against.”

A spokesperson for Melton (D-Gary) did not respond to a request for clarification.

“It’s unfortunate that this situation had to take place,” Melton said in a statement. “… I want to be clear that I don’t want this situation to become a distraction from the work that we’re doing through the Indiana Black Legislative Caucus on our police reform agenda.”

Capitol Police officers are part of Indiana State Police (ISP). A spokesperson for ISP confirmed there is an internal investigation.

Contact staff writer Tyler Fenwick at 317-762-7853. Follow him on Twitter @Ty_Fenwick.

Indiana Sen. Eddie Melton

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