Local officials call for Indy to remain calm following of Baton Rouge shootings

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Troy Riggs on Dec. 8, 2015

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — The apparent ambush of Baton Rouge police officers that resulted in the deaths of three lawmen and a suspect comes as Indianapolis community leaders have repeatedly praised the city’s dialog with and efforts to reach out to all of its citizens.

The Indiana Black Expo Summer Celebration winds up today after a week of family and community events that culminated with a peaceful Saturday night downtown that observers and police say was the most sedate ever.

Rev. David Hampton, deputy mayor in the Joe Hogsett administration, moderated an IBE discussion this weekend on issues facing the city’s African American community and said Indianapolis is unique in its approach to those who feel left behind in society or have grievances with law enforcement.

“We have a police department that is willing to sit down and engage the community so we want to continue the great work that has already been done with police-community relations and I’m proud of my city for that,” said Hampton.  “The issue of race isn’t just a black and white problem. It’s a human problem and its also a human solution, so when we work together, we can reach that solution.”

After a successful and peaceful Black Lives Matter march through downtown Indianapolis one week ago when participants publicly thanked and applauded IMPD protection and cooperation along the procession route, a man wearing a BLM t-shirt with no apparent ties to the movement fired on an officer’s house and car early Tuesday morning.

Metro Police Chief Troy Riggs said a line had been crossed when an officer could be targeted personally.

“We want officers to be safe and it’s a great tragedy what has happened,” said Rev. David Greene, president of the Concerned Clergy who received a briefing by a top IMPD commander hours after the shooting and capture of the suspect.  “Unfortunately sometimes you get a negative event and people try to read more into it. It creates greater division versus the focus on the good news and the positive stuff that is happening in our communities.”

Veteran activist Muhammad Siddeeq said the shooting was a betrayal of the peaceful aims of the movement and the hard work community leaders do every day bridging the gap between residents and the police department.

“We have issues that we have to take a look at and try to correct but we want to do it in a civil and intelligent and rational way so that we can save our city and not tear it apart,” said Siddeeq.

“We have to stand up together,” said Greene. “This is not a situation just in Indianapolis but across the country as far as all of us working together. The police department can’t fix everything by themselves.

“I applaud the police department as far as doing wrap around services and that’s where the community comes in, that’s where our leaders and our city we all have to step to the plate and do our part.

“All of us are in this thing together.”

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