Community and faith leaders speak out against violent protests

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INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana Mayor Joe Hogsett is calling for peace as people protest against years of police violence against African Americans.

During a news conference Saturday, Hogsett admitted that he does not know the challenges of being a black person in Indianapolis. However, he said he is willing to listen.

Hogsett invited organizers of Friday’s protests to meet with his staff and himself Saturday morning along with Dreasjon Reed’s mother and representatives from Black Lives Matter. During that meeting, they discussed several matters, and Hogsett came out with two commitments.

  • To continue to change on major issues related to community policing, transparency, and accountability. Also to the ongoing investigations into May’s police shooting deaths.
  • The mayor’s office and the IMPD remain dedicated to ensuring the safety of peaceful protestors

“I am sincerely sorry that so many families in Indianapolis cannot trust their city leaders and authorities,” Hogsett said. “And as we work towards that cause of progress in Indianapolis, including the long-overdue deployment of body-worn cameras and civilian representation on a new use-of-force review board, I pledge that there is more we will do.”

Hogsett said while he encourages the loud voices of peaceful protests, the good faith efforts of those protestors are overshadowed by violence. He called for Saturday’s protestors to congregate safely, and return home before dark.

Community and faith leaders echoed Hogsett’s sentiments, saying that they understand the pain, but they have to do things the right way.

“We don’t want to be stigmatized as the black community for the actions of a few, because we know 99 percent of individuals out here mean well. And we know it wasn’t just members of the black community out here,” Aaron Williams, a community advocate said.

Pastor Ronald Covington Sr. from Friendship Missionary Baptist Church intoned Martin Luther King, saying “violence begets violence, and hate begets hate.”

Covington says people have the right to protest, but they have to do it peacefully. When protests escalate to violence, and people do damage to the city, it is not going to help the situation.

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