June 3, 2020

Peaceful Protests Continue In Indianapolis

Black Lives Matter protesters concluded their march through Indianapolis at Monument Circle. - Jill Sheridan/WFYI

Black Lives Matter protesters concluded their march through Indianapolis at Monument Circle.

Jill Sheridan/WFYI
Jill Sheridan and Carter Barrett

For the sixth night hundreds of protestors took to the streets of downtown Indianapolis.

Members of Indy Black Lives Matters led the demonstration and spoke to the diverse crowd.

“I need your fist up if you’re here to fight tonight. I need your fist up if you’re here to fight tomorrow,” said Mat Davis, who helped organize the demonstration at Monument Circle.

Much of the protest focused on the Indianapolis police shooting of 21-year-old Dreasjon Reed last month.

Davis said a new video contradicts what police have said about the incident. “He did not brandish a weapon, he did not point a weapon, he did not shoot a weapon.”

The group has a list of demands related to Reed’s death, including having police release the name of the officer who shot him.

Reed was shot May 6, while running from police following a car chase. Police say they fired a taser that appeared to be ineffective and gunshots were exchanged.

Erika Haskins says protestors also are taking aim at the police department’s use of force policy. “We need the policy changed so guess what, it doesn’t happen again,” she says.

Earlier Wednesday evening, a very different demonstration formed outside Eskenazi hospital, about a mile from downtown.

Hundreds of physicians and medical professionals stood in the garden in front of the hospital. It was a sea of white coats, and nearly everyone wore a facemask.

The protest, White Coats For Black Lives, was organized to address health disparities and racism in medicine. Organizer and doctor Francesca Duncan said recognizing that health disparities exist is a crucial first step.

“And then, as physicians and healthcare providers, identifying those health disparities in our subspecialties and then coming up with tangible tasks that we can do to try to combat them,” she said.

Several speakers highlighted these disparities – like higher maternal and infant mortality rates for black women.

“We’re meant to show empathy, compassion, love to every single one of our patients, regardless of who they are, where they’re from, what their religious beliefs are, background, etc.” organizer and doctor Roberto Swazo said. “So if we can’t show that love during a day like this, during a time like this I don’t know when we’re going to be able to do so.”

Some in the crowd held signs that read, “Stop killing my patients! Stop killing my friends!” and “Black moms, black babies, black lives matter.”

As cars drove by, people honked in support. And the protest and march went forward with very little police presence.

Even though there was no curfew in place Wednesday night, the crowd of protestors at Monument Circle left around nightfall. More protests are planned this week.

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