Business owners furious over mayor’s office response to riot destruction, question IMPD response too

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Nearly a month has passed since violent rioters, not peaceful protestors, destroyed businesses in Downtown Indianapolis. Business owners are livid as they insist no one from the mayor’s administration has reached out to them for help.

“The bottom line is, we just need to know that this is not going to be allowed to happen again,” Greg Bires said, standing in front of a boarded-up front window and door at Windsor Jewelry.

Chris Karnavas owns Jack’s Donuts near the statehouse. He insisted he spent time on the phone Saturday calling everyone he could before the rioting and looting began. He also showed an email he sent the mayor’s office on June 1.

“I’m very, very upset about this whole situation,” Karnavas said, standing outside his boarded-up shop. “This should never have happened.”

Business owners want a concrete plan from city leaders about how they will react should a weekend of violent rioting happen again.

“We just need direction,” Bires said. “We need to know how the city is going to prepare and what the city’s plans are in case an event like this happens again.”

CBS4 reached out early this afternoon to request an interview with Mayor Joe Hogsett. Without knowing what the business owners would tell us, Mark Bode, Deputy Communications Director, sent this statement:

“The Mayor’s Office has been in continued contact with downtown establishments and associations throughout the past several months. We are working to maintain lines of communication with businesses on reopening from both the pandemic and property damage while also supporting advocacy organizations, including Downtown Indy, seeking to assist businesses during this difficult time.” 

“No,” Karnavas said after reading the statement. “It’s an absolute lie. The mayor’s office is lying. There has been no contact with the mayor, there’s been no contact from his office, nothing.”

Another big question surrounds IMPD’s response to the violent weekend. During a virtual public safety committee meeting on June 10, Assistant Chief Chris Bailey said Deputy Mayor David Hampton, in conjunction with protest organizers, asked IMPD to step back.

Bailey said officers did until the destruction started. But by then, they were not in a position to respond immediately.

“The crowd started to grow, and it was infiltrated with people that may have come down there with a mindset that’s not the same as these protestors,” Bailey said on June 10. “I lived it from the very beginning.”

Karnavas is blaming the mayor for the destruction to his business.

“He wants to push it off onto the police department,” Karnavas said. “Well, he’s the head guy. The buck stops at his desk. He’s the one that told them to stand down.”

As business owners continue demanding a plan from the city to ensure their doors and windows will never need to be boarded up again, they add this message.

“It’s really important that everyone in the community knows that a lot of businesses like myself, not just me but there’s multiple businesses downtown, that are really suffering now,” Bires said. “And, we need support.”

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