FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Belinda Drake Statement on the Racial Profiling of State Senator Eddie Melton inside the Statehouse
Indianapolis, IN – (July 13, 2020)
During the “Beyond the Big Tent – Black Voices in Politics”
all-inclusive rally last Saturday, we took shelter inside the statehouse after receiving approval from state staffers, so we could stay dry and safe from the afternoon hailstorm. Soon after getting our group settled inside, I was witness to a racial profiling incident between State Senator Eddie Melton and an Indiana State Trooper.
Senator Eddie Melton and Senator JD Ford went to talk with a couple of Indiana State Troopers who they saw were rapidly rushing toward the rally. That was when a State Trooper began screaming at Senator Melton and yelling at him to “freeze”. Then the Trooper popped the clip on his firearm holster, presumably in preparation to draw his weapon at an unarmed Black Senator, while he continued yelling at Senator Melton. Senator Ford tried to deescalate the situation, tried to get the Trooper to take notice and listen, but the Trooper was so singularly focused on Senator Melton. Senator Ford was eventually able to get the Trooper to hear him and to ease his aggression toward Senator Melton. The difference in how aggressively the Trooper treated Senator Melton compared to how generously he treated Senator Ford was unnerving.
It doesn’t matter how far we think we’ve come, we still have so much further to go. It didn’t matter that Senator Melton is elected to state office. It didn’t matter that Senator Melton was being responsible and doing the right thing by going to talk with the Trooper. It didn’t matter that Senator Melton was doing everything that the Trooper yelled at him to do. It didn’t matter that Senator Melton was cooperating. It didn’t matter that Senator Melton was unarmed. None of that mattered. The only thing that mattered to law enforcement in that moment was that a white man unrelentingly insisted the Trooper stop his aggression toward a Black man.
Last week, it was being Black in the woods. This week, it is being Black in the statehouse.
What happened to Senator Melton was an act of systemic racism through the use of racial profiling by law enforcement and it glaringly points to the need for structural change in Indiana. For 400 years, Black Americans have been dying for democracy and I know that could’ve been the situation on Saturday in the statehouse if the moment had been even slightly different. Generations of our ancestors have risked their lives in pursuit of access to the American dream while simultaneously liberating ourselves from oppression and this is still true today.
The fact is our state legislature has been grossly negligent in addressing systemic racism for far too long and it can’t be ignored anymore. We must pass bills that require annual implicit bias training and de-escalation training for law enforcement officers. We must pass bills that address racial profiling and provide for a confidential whistleblower complaint process for law enforcement officers.
The kind of racism experienced by Senator Melton and that I witnessed on Saturday inside the statehouse is rooted in systems of hate that we absolutely can change. We have the ability to make change that ends racism but we must have bold leaders willing to take on these dysfunctional systems and create new systems that respect the humanity and liberty of all Hoosiers.
I believe we are on the forefront of a new era of political leadership, an era where leaders will take on these deeply rooted and dysfunctional power structures so that we can create meaningful change in our communities. As your next State Senator, I won’t just fight for change, I will lead us forward on the path of justice, equity, and freedom.
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 Councilor 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, as the Racial Justice & Diversity Coordinator for Indiana NOW (National Organization for Women), and as a National Delegate for the Indiana Democratic Party to the 2020 Democratic National Convention.
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