Belinda Drake Statement on Law Enforcement Reform
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Indianapolis, IN – (June 1, 2020)
Over the past five days, everyone across the nation has witnessed the pain, outrage, and trauma of over 400 years of racism in America. There is nothing that has become more evident to me in the past few weeks than our collective need for bold, authentic leadership to correct the centuries of dysfunctional policy our communities reckon with and grieve over every day. This mourning is felt deep within the souls of the black community. We can no longer go along to get along.
One thing that has become very clear to me is exactly how easy it is for pretended leaders to choose power and political expediency over standing up and fighting for what is right for our people. I am not that person and I will not stand idly by and watch power beget power.
I choose the pathway of healing.
I choose justice.
Dreasjon Reed was murdered in Indianapolis, IN on May 6, 2020. The next day I released a statement calling on our communities to unite around the principles of fairness and justice. I also promised that I would launch a plan that will address violence in Indiana, a plan that will offer real policy solutions based on human rights principles that will change the way police serve our communities. As a person of my word, today I share with you my plan for law enforcement reform which you can read in full on my website here: POLICY.
However, over the past few days there has been a deeply concerning move from leadership in the City of Indianapolis, the city that I call home, and it cannot remain unaddressed.
First, I reiterate my call for the United States Department of Justice to conduct an independent, timely, and thorough investigation into the death of Dreasjon Reed. Even more, I call on the Mayor, City-County Council, and other community leaders to join me in calling on the Department of Justice for a thorough investigation.
Next, I call on the City of Indianapolis and the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department to immediately release all people who have been jailed as a result of the protests and to release them without payment of any bond. Furthermore, those who were jailed as a result of the protests and who were financially privileged enough to have afforded bail during the current economic crisis must be reimbursed in full and without exception.
I call on Indianapolis Mayor Hogsett to lift the curfew on the City of Indianapolis and do not extend it. Not only is it an unnecessary miscalculation and overreaction, it is part of a decades-long practice of policing minor offenses known as “Broken Windows” policing. Just like it’s cousin, “Stop-and-Frisk profiling”, the policing of minor offenses that do not threaten public safety are often used to police black bodies. Mr. Mayor – I can assure you that the data that will be gathered as a result of curfew policing will not sit well with communities and your constituents in Indianapolis. I call on you to lead instead of reacting.
I call on law enforcement officers in Indianapolis and across the state, who want to stand on the side of healing and bring change to their departments, to speak up and stand up with those of us fighting for justice. Now more than ever, we need to hear your voices, we need to see your acts of support. We need to see you stand up for higher standards in your profession to preserve the life and liberty of all Americans which you are sworn to uphold.
Hoosiers across the state have been standing up and speaking up for justice over the past five days. Hammond – I hear you. Fort Wayne – I hear you. Indianapolis – I hear you. South Bend – I hear you. Griffith – I hear you. Merrillville – I hear you. Bloomington – I hear you. Michigan City – I hear you. Hobart – I hear you. Valparaiso – I hear you. Columbus – I hear you. Kokomo – I hear you. Portage – I hear you. Jeffersonville – I hear you.
Jeffersonville – I have heard about the death of Malcolm Williams and I call on the United States Department of Justice to conduct an independent, timely, and thorough investigation into his murder. I stand with your brother, Tyler Williams, and call on the Indiana State Police Department to immediately release the video footage surrounding Malcolm’s death.
The grief and mourning that I hear and feel from Malcolm William’s friends and family is unfathomable. Please know that as I write this on Pentecost Sunday, I continue to lift up Malcolm and your entire family and community in my prayers. Please accept my sincerest condolences and I hope that your hearts will find some peace in the weeks to come. I know that your community is living in shock and grief. Please know that you are not alone and that communities across the state will advocate for solutions to this injustice so our brothers and sisters can also live in peace in America.
Over the last few weeks in Indianapolis, leadership from community organizations like the African American Coalition of Indianapolis, the Indiana Black Expo, and the Indianapolis Urban League have been advocating for a Citizen’s Review Board to IMPD. I am concerned by the fact that after three years of planning, community conversations, and policy drafting, the recommendation is to create a Board that is structured like an identical twin of the IMPD Merit Board, only with fewer members and absolutely no true oversight function.
The purpose of civilian oversight is not to add another layer of bureaucracy with no function. The Citizen’s Review Board must be responsible to our communities and must not become a cog inside of the political appointment wheel. The Citizen’s Review Board must be a structure representative of and by our communities. Members must not have been current, former, or family of police officers as members. Members must be selected from candidates offered by community organizations. They must have the ability to determine policy for the police department as a result of community input and expertise.
Additionally, the Citizen’s Police Complaint Board must be improved in its composition and appointment process. To truly be a Citizen’s Complaint Board, it must be a structure representative of and by our communities. Members must not have been current, former, or family of police officers as members. Members must be selected from candidates offered by community organizations. We also must remove the 60 day gag rule on this Board’s ability to investigate complaints submitted to the Board.
Independent civilian oversight is the pathway for healing and is essential for justice not only in Indianapolis but also in the great State of Indiana. As State Senator, I will introduce these urgent policy solutions and human rights principles so that we can change the way law enforcement serve across our Hoosier communities.
The time has come for bold leadership on these issues. We must make change that saves lives and ends violence. That requires leaders who are willing to do this hard work.
Today, I call on Republican and Democratic leaders alike to choose the pathway of healing and justice. Not to fulfill some talking point about “working across the aisle” and “getting things done”. I am calling on you to do the real work. To set aside political expediency. To set aside accumulation of power. I am calling on you to listen to the mourning that is happening in our communities over the unnecessary deaths of black people.
I’m calling on you to choose justice. I call on you to help put an end to over 400 years of racism in America.
To learn more about Belinda Drake’s campaign for Indiana State Senate or to get started as a volunteer in the Field Captain program, visit www.belindadrake.com and connect with the campaign on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram using the hashtag #BelieveINBelinda.
About Belinda Drake for Indiana State Senate:
Belinda Drake is a progressive Democratic candidate for Indiana State Senate in District 32. Committed to putting people over politics, Belinda will serve her communities with a bold and inclusive vision to bring positive change and progress for the people of Senate District 32 and for all Hoosiers. Belinda was born and raised in Gary, IN, and has been a resident and member of the far eastside Indianapolis community for the last 3 years. Belinda graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in political science and a minor in legal studies from IUPUI and has worked on the campaign trail for United States Congressman Andre Carson, Indiana State Senator J.D. Ford, City Council Candidate Crista Carlino, and many other Democratic party candidates at the state and local levels. Belinda has served on the board for the Indiana Stonewall Democrats and as the treasurer for the Lawrence Township Democrats. Belinda currently serves as the 7th District Chair for the Indiana Young Democrats and as the Racial Justice & Diversity Coordinator for Indiana NOW (National Organization for Women).
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