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National Association of Black Veterans call for transparency, justice

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The Indianapolis chapter of the National Association of Black Veterans (NABVETS) held a press conference July 2 to go over a list of demands for Mayor Joe Hogsett and the city, as well as to discuss a meeting representatives of the group had with Hogsett earlier in the week. 

Curtis Godfrey, a former commander in the United States Army, began the press conference at the site of Dreasjon Reed’s death. Reed, a 21-year-old Air Force veteran, was shot and killed by Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD) officer DeJour Mercer on May 6 following a car chase. 

“There have been far too many injuries, and in many cases, deaths, [due to police],” Godfrey said. “We met with the mayor and his special counsel, and we’re here today to honor our Air Force veteran who was killed by an IMPD officer-involved shooting. … We’re here for the sake of transparency.”

Dave Rozzell, a minister and retired Navy senior chief, read a letter written to Hogsett requesting a meeting, along with the list of demands from NABVETS. Among them are the creation of a Human Rights Council in lieu of a police review board and the release of documentation regarding the May 31 incident involving IMPD officers and two women downtown, as well as the release of Reed’s autopsy report. 

“We could no longer take this without expressing our concern,” Rozzell said. “Enough is enough. We expect each officer protects and serves each American citizen, or we will have to protect and defend ourselves.”

Rozzell said the June 30 meeting with Hogsett and Special Counsel Tim Moriarty lasted about an hour, and said the mayor seemed responsive — even sympathetic — to the issues NABVETS brought forward. 

Rozzell read from a letter presented to Hogsett during the meeting, listing more demands from the organization. 

“Our community has the right to know the facts,” Rozzell said, referencing the May 31 incident involving IMPD and two women, one of whom was Black. “Officers beat an unarmed female, as if they were pursuing a fugitive … or a wild animal, for being downtown 10 minutes after curfew. … That was truly unacceptable and all those involved must be held accountable.”

Rozzell also argued that Mercer must also be held accountable for the “execution-style killing of Dreasjon Reed.” The group is also calling for an end to qualified immunity.

“We are encouraged, we’re hopeful,” Godfrey said of the group’s meeting with Hogsett. “It’s going to hurt, whatever the decisions are that are made by the mayor and the city. But it’s necessary. If it means we have a reduction of police, then that’s what we’ll do. … We, the people, allow you to police us. We allow them because we the people outnumber the police. … So, at this point, we’ve allowed them to police us for far too long, and it’s come to this unfortunate time that we must take dramatic measures to … prevent the loss of life.”

Contact staff writer Breanna Cooper at 317-762-7848. Follow her on Twitter @BreannaNCooper.

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