As a group of roughly 40 people began to gather outside of Walker Plaza at 1 p.m. Aug. 6, Indy10 Black Lives Matter organizer Jessica Louise was reflective. With the group speaking among themselves ahead of the upcoming march, Louise kneeled by the “V” in the newly created Black Lives Matter mural.
Created by local artist Deonna Craig, the letter incorporated the names of Black Hoosiers killed by police, including Dreasjon Reed, 21, and McHale Rose, 19. A bundle of flowers had been placed by each name. For a few moments, Louise’s hands were pressed against Reed’s painted name. As Louise stood up, the march began.
This protest, like the ones that have been taking place for months, called for justice in the deaths of Reed and Rose, who died within hours of one another on May 6 and May 7.
“We’re doing this for Dreasjon,” Louise told the group just before they began marching. “He was killed three months ago today.”
On Aug. 5, after pushback from the community and authorization from the Marion County Superior Court, Reed’s autopsy report was released to his family, 90 days after his death following a chase with Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD) officer Dejoure Mercer.
As the group began to move downtown, chanting “No justice, no peace” and “Defund the police,” activists — several on bicycles and one in a car marked “Black Lives Matter Medical Team” — blocked off roads to traffic.
The group was particularly vigilant after a June incident, when Diane Goebel — perhaps better known as “Minivan Karen” — struck protesters with her car on Monument Circle.
When protesters arrived at the WRTV-6 building on North Meridian Street, they stopped for a few minutes to air their grievances with the news station.
After it was originally announced that an interview with a witness to Reed’s death would be aired at 11 p.m. on Aug. 5, WRTV-6 pulled the segment, sparking outrage from some members of the community.
“Air the interview!” the crowd chanted, “Tell the truth!” After roughly 10 minutes of the group being stationed outside the building, a Lawrence police vehicle pulled up to the group, but the officer never got out of the vehicle and drove away a few minutes later.
When an ambulance appeared to be heading toward the group, they moved out of its way and continued their march. Underneath the I-65 bridge, tension mounted between several members of the protest and a driver.
While members of the group tried to redirect traffic, a driver in a blue truck revved the engine, sending protesters scrambling to the sidewalk. One protester, who only identified himself as “Icon,” pulled a gun on the driver.
“I was scared he was going to kill me,” he said. “I stepped in front of a little girl when he revved his engine, but, yes, I absolutely drew a gun to defend myself.”
After a few minutes, the driver turned around, and the protesters continued toward Monument Circle. A group of roughly 10 cars trailed behind the group heading toward Monument Circle. Some honked in solidarity with the protest, others in frustration.
The group stopped just before reaching Monument Circle to voice the demands of Indy10. Among them: release the 911 call Rose allegedly made on the night of his death — which IMPD said was in an attempt to ambush officers — and to open a federal investigation into his and Reed’s death, as well as to charge Mercer with murder in Reed’s death.
News was spreading among the group as they walked back to the plaza from Monument Circle that the four officers involved in Rose’s death had returned to active duty, according to an IndyStar report.
As the group arrived back at Walker Plaza, met by a small group of people taking photos of the mural, organizers told them to prepare for “hell week,” but didn’t elaborate what that meant.
Noting there’s a long road ahead, Louise is hopeful the fight will be worth it in the long run, despite what some may view as setbacks in the investigation of Rose’s death.
“Be encouraged,” Louise said, referencing the release of Reed’s autopsy report. “This is a long fight for us. … Follow us on social media to stay updated, you never know when we’ll have to wake up for Black lives.”
Contact staff writer Breanna Cooper at 317-762-7848. Follow her on Twitter @BreannaNCooper.