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The Black Church Coalition holding officials accountable

Amid concerns for increased youth violence and officer involved shootings the Black Church Coalition’s Safe and Healthy Community Summit on April 4 sought to hold people in positions of power accountable

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The Black Church Coalition’s call for action reverberated through the sanctuary of Light of the World Christian Church to an audience of about 200 people Thursday night.

Amid impassioned speeches and pointed inquiries directed at public officials who sat in chairs within the pulpit, one chair sat noticeably empty.

“Mayor Joe Hogsett was invited tonight, but chose not to come,” said Darrell Brooks, New Liberty Missionary Baptist Church pastor.

RELATED: Black Church Coalition addressing officer-involved shootings

“He is not here, but he is not off the hook.”

They invited Senator Andrea Hunley, D-Indianapolis, and IMPD Chief Chris Bailey to listen to testimonies from members of the Black Church Coalition focused on police brutality and disparities everyday experiences of Indianapolis residents.

The Black Church Coalition’s research report stated that poverty continues to be the root cause of community violence and instability.

Indianapolis ranks #2 for evictions in the country.

1 in 5 children live in poverty perpetuating a cycle of oppression.

Research also shows that 852 drug overdose deaths happened in the city in 2022 according to the Marion County Coroner’s Office.

In 2023, Indianapolis had 18 officer-involved shootings where 16 out of 18 incidents were Black men.

“There’s a lot of tension in the room, right? And that’s intentional because nothing ever comes about with ease. I know some of the word choices and the language that we use made some of you uncomfortable, and that is intentional,” said Brooks.

“We’re going to continue to make folks uncomfortable because that’s how anything gets done.”

During prepared remarks, speakers asked questions directly to Senator Hunley and Chief Bailey.

The Black Church Coalition announced their re-imagined public safety plan that includes IMPD increasing transparency, creating a harm reduction crisis team to address rising drug overdoses and legislators raising taxes for Marion County’s wealthiest residents to level out equal living.

Senator Andrea Hunley, D-Indianapolis, pledged to spearhead legislation in 2025 aimed at rectifying Indiana’s tax disparities.

“Systemic inequality has left deep scars on our society perpetuating these cycles of poverty. The importance of public investment is absolutely the importance of supporting historically disadvantaged communities,” said Sen. Hunley.

IMPD Chief Chris Bailey pledged to create a civilian-led data transparency department in the next 12-18 months.

“That process is already underway and has been for some time. With Catherine Cummings becoming assistant chief, she has been filling a technology data position and we will continue to work on that in the next couple of months,” said Chief Bailey.

Before taking the pledges, Councilor Perkins agreed to draft and champion legislation that would restructure the IMPD Merit board process to facilitate the removal of officers for gross misconduct and excessive use of force. 

Unfortunately, despite commitments before his re-election to do that, Mayor Hogsett was not present for the event.

The Black Church Coalition Central Committee planned on reaching out Monday, April 8 to schedule a meeting.

Mayor Joe Hogsett attended other events April 4, including the Kennedy King Memorial Initiative’s 56th annual commemorative event.

The coalition’s proactive stance underscores a broader initiative to hold local leaders accountable, with criticism leveled at Mayor Joe Hogsett for his perceived absence in addressing critical issues.

Contact staff writer Jade Jackson at (317) 762-7853 or by email JadeJ@IndyRecorder.com. Follow her on Twitter @IAMJADEJACKSON. 

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